Saturday, June 19, 2010

Counting people in cups of corn

Last week, made a quick trip to yercaud.
the drive was good, with the roads and the weather in excellent condition almost all the way.
the last few kilometers on the 20 hairpin bends uphill, it was raining heavily with very little visibility.
the hotel where we stayed was small, but functional. one of those ecology themed hotels, close to the lake.
with very misty weather, took pleasant walks the next morning - but the view points - the pagoda point [invariably spelt as pakoda point - pakoda being a local snack!] had only the view of the mist.

we found very few visitors at the view point, and the local dog at the temple could also not be bothered from its sleep.
there were a few vendors who had their stalls - though on push-carts and makeshift sheds, they had screen-printed banners with names such as steam and roast - for steamed corn and roasted peanuts!
their steaming equipment was a hand operated blower!
i was wondering how they plan their quantities - as it looked like the corn would feed a battalion. i tried to imagine how the vendors would feel as they see visitors coming there. they surely welcomed us very enthusiastically and expectantly.. though we were not good customers.
i was tempted to try the fresh fig and honey combo, but decided against considering the cleanliness aspects.

on the way down, as the sky was also clearing up a bit, we saw many vehicles - cars, buses, two-wheelers going uphill. tried to visualize the emotions and expectations of the vendors at pakoda point!

like in cartoons, the image that flashed before my eyes, were that each vehicle was equivalent to a number of cups of corn..
2 for a 2 wheeler, 2-4 for a car and 10 for a bus....
i am sure they would have done good business for the rest of the day, going by the number of strewn paper cups and plastic spoons we could find along the way back.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June tunes

June is here.
I love the smell of the earth with the first fresh showers followed by the fresh plant smells.
June is also the time when the schools re-open in Bangalore and one can see children getting ready to go to school in the mornings.
with the new school session starting, it is also interesting to observe the proud, dreamy and anxious parents, getting the kids ready for school, on to the bus etc.

as i wait for my company bus in the morning, these scenes not only provide some diversion, but also interesting insights.

like the mother of a small boy - who spotted another older boy going to the same school - and quizzing him on the school, teachers, bus timings etc.
or the father who gets a kid on the bus, then crosses over to the other side, to wave 'tata' to the kid, as the bus makes a U turn after picking up some other children.
or the very concerned mother who argues with the bus driver every day, as to why he cannot drop the kids back on the same side of the road - rather than the other side, in the afternoon - as it is not safe for kids to cross the road, particularly when the parents get a little delayed
or the patient 'ayahs' who get the little kids and their school bags + lunch boxes well settled before the buses move
or the impatient drivers, who play a teasing game with the kids who come late, by raising the engine, to make them run faster to the bus..

among all this, there are also these occasional drivers - both bus drivers and others - who drive into dirty puddles and splash water over others waiting.

evenings are wetter, with regular rains that time themselves with the office timings, to make two-wheeler drivers take shelter under trees - or the elevated roads and fly-overs, to wait out cloud bursts.

this is very different from the Mumbai culture, where life goes on, in spite of the heavy monsoon downpours.
in fact, the culture is so different in Bangalore, that - soon after we shifted here about 20 years ago - we would be among the very few that carried umbrellas - which were very common and a mandatory accessory in Mumbai, during this season.

that has changed a lot in the last 2 decades. while the acceptance to live with nature has increased, the awareness and responsible use of water has yet to catch up.
i have seen the ground water table dry up and go lower in our area. the recent rule about rainwater harvesting should show some results in the next few years, like it has helped chennai.