Saturday, August 28, 2004

Sakleshpur

Trekking with strangers can be a lot of fun. Discovered that on my trek to Sakleshpur this weekend. The western ghats were overwhelmingly beautiful after the more than adequate monsoon rains this year.
The group that had come was interesting too. Made the trek a nice experience. For comic relief,there was this DJ from one of the famous clubs in bangalore. He looked the part too, with the hip-hop clothes and the american accent. He spoke the 'pulp-fiction' dialect. You know, the kind where the letters 'f', 'u', 'c' and 'k' are used more often than the letter 'e'. He was obsessed with his knife and utilised all his free time sharpening it. He narrated a lot of self-glorifying anecdotes about his nocturnal ways. He had us beleive that he has a lot of clout in the underworld too. His tough-boy image would really have been believable if he hadn't asked the trek guide to hold his hand while crossing the bridges ! After that he was just a joker. Talking about jokers, there was a genuinely humourous Bihari among us, who had us in splits with his wisecracks and witty stories and theories.There were a bunch of newbies who really didn'tknow what to expect from a trek. It was amusing watching them react when they realised they had to crap in the wild.
The trek also provided a lot of fodder for my photographic experiments. I was really proud of one of the panorama shots that I managed from the top of the hill. The trail from Edakumeri to Kaginahare was really fantastic. The forest was full of bamboos. There is some weird kind of harmony in south indian bamboo forests. The sweeping lines of the stalks and the verdant richness of the foliage. The spooky sound that the stalks make when they rub against each other. It's like being in a dream.
After a good trek, to be back amidst the traffic and the buzz of a city is always upsetting. The journey itself was scary. The driver was in a hurry to get back home and he scared the hell out of us. The music that he played was hardly uplifting either. Just glad that I made it back sane and in one piece!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Independence !

It is that time of the year when all chests swell with pride. When everyone is parroting the hackneyed speeches about the greatness of our culture and heritage, and on why it is such a special honour to be born in this hallowed land. Don't get me wrong here, I'm proud about a lot of things Indian. The Buddha, Mahatma , Himalayas, the Languages and most of the other incredible things, but all this August 15th jingoism gets on my nerves at times. I think, patriotism, most often than not, simply is ignorance of what lies beyond your country's borders. "Patriotism is the conviction that your country is superior to all others because you were born in it". Mr.Shaw you said it so well. Almost always, a display of patriotism is appreciated more than patriotism itself. The dude in my office knows this pretty well. He gives us the opportunity to profess our love for our motherland. We duly stand in RSS-style straight lines, facing the tricolor, one-arm distance from each other, singing the national anthem. Most people don't remember the words, and those who do, don't understand them. This is a problem unique to my land, the land of a thousand languages. The flag hoisting is followed by that most indian of games, Antakshari. We endure the enthusiastic crowd singing out of key for a full half hour, and then the prize justifiably goes to the two prettiest girls. This is followed by a couple of populist announcements by the HR about the plans to increase the frequency of these cultural activities. We even hear speeches from a couple of phirangis. Nothing pleases us more than a white man endorsing our claims of being the richest of cultures.

A more bizarre tribute to the independence day transpired a day before this. One of the clubs here decided to pay tribute to the famous Independence movement. And how do they do it? They invite the city's most famous hard rock bands to , in the words of the MC, "unleash some serious mayhem". The crowd divides it's attention between drugs and banging heads to the ear splitting sounds. Luckily for us misfits (26yr olds with moustaches, for God's sake!!!) there is a nook where sanity still prevailed and some great music was being dished out.A bloke called Kamal had us begging for more of his unpretentious good old melodies. If I was a betting man, I'd throw a lot of money on him making it big in the music world.