Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Holiday and Back to Work 6

This was the last day of our holiday. We had the Dubbare agenda weighing on us, and the entire return was planned around trying to visit Dubbare. I realised that we had almost spent an extra day in the entire holiday - as we had lost time on the way to Coorg at Kushalnagar due to the strike, lost an evening due to the rains and the re-visit to Dubbare had cost us almost half a day. But there were no regrets as we had intended this holiday to be fairly relaxed and partly disorganised. From Dubbare we were contemplating what to do. I was quite keen to spend a day in Mysore for old time's sake - visit the Chamundi Hill and the Zoo if possible. But Arjun was already suffering from the early signs of a cold and we really did not want him to suffer from exhaustion.

We therefore decided that we would just go back, skirting Mysore, visit Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary and move on to Bangalore. The journey was long and we had asked Hemant to switch of the airconditioner for Arjun. It was a bit stuffy and the road between Periyapattana and Hunsur was terrible. As there was lots of construction going on, we were confined to a dirt track. Eventually we reached Belagola, the outskirts of Mysore and had lunch there. There was a sign board inviting us to a restaurant in Belagola. Given the amount of advertisement, I thought that this would be some sort of a up market place. However, when we went in, we were disappointed. It was an okay place, square in shape, with a transparent roof in the centre and fully covered spaces on all four sides. It was more like what we would call a "Thotti Mane" in Kannada, with the central portion almost looking like a backyard. The food was so-so.

From Belagola we went to Ranganathittu. I had seen this place several times as a kid, but I was visiting the sanctuary after a long time. It was a good time to visit. We went in and picked up Arjun's binoculars and went to the boat. The experience between Kabini and Ranganathittu was stark. Both were establishments run by the state, but Kabini looked so professional. Ranganathittu had a problem right from the entry. There were too many people having a picnic, opening up food and littering all over the place. Yes, one may argue the Kabini is prohibitive and possibly should be made more accessible to more people. However, is this always a trade off? Can we not have places that are accessible to most of the people interested but still keep the environs clean? We could see the sta[o]rk difference.

Once we got into the boat for a ride, we could see more of these differences. Firstly there were plenty of life jackets, but none of the tourists were made to wear one. All the life jackets in the boat looked brand new - and had never been used. Arjun grumbled about the safety factor and the need. We also casually asked how deep the water was and we were told that it could be around 80 feet - certainly a fit case for having a life jacket!!

The second part of it was about how our boatman described the birds we saw - in Kabini, the description was complete with it proper zoological name and all associated habits. In Ranganathittu all that we could gather was that "the pink chested bird you see over there has come from Siberia" or "the long beaked bird has come from Germany..." not a good way of getting lay tourists interested in Ornithology. And this of course is one of the best bird sanctuaries in India!!

Ranganathittu has lots of crocodiles and we saw quite a few of them during our boat ride. However the most telling image was that of a crocodile killing a bird. It happened in a split second and before the bird could realise it was trapped by the croc. I somehow could not take a picture because it happened under a thick shade and the light was insufficient.

By the time we returned from the boat ride, it appeared that the boatman-cum-guide was already grumbling and did not seem least interested in his job. This was quite a contrast to Shivanna who was so willing and enthusiastic on the boat.

From Ranganathittu it was back home for us. Gowri wanted to stop by at Jaanapada Loka near Ramanagaram. It was an interesting museum. Unfortunately we were there by around 5 pm and they were keen to close. Again, the museum had all the stuff that a folk arts museum must have but for the small element of professionalism. More people seem to be interested in visiting the Kamat's eatery next door than this. A bit of a tragedy for H N Nage Gowda who had built up this place with such care after his retirement from civil service.

We had a long drive from Ramanagaram. It almost took two hours from Kengeri to reach home. The traffic in Bangalore has become unbearable and we bore the brunt of it after a long holiday. On reaching, it was time for letting our hair down. We decided that we could all go out for dinner, taking appa along. We had a small nice dinner in Inchara at the other end of the town. By the time we were back, Hemant said that he had to rush, he had got the next assignment. He had to go to Vasanthanagar and pick up the next party for a trip to Mysore. He would have one more night out and I hoped he will be able to manage it. For all the professionalism shown by Vishal of Skyway, flogging the drivers did not seem to end. Nobody thought that the driver might actually need a break. Not a perfect ending for our holiday to know that Hemant would be up and awake again... but well the holiday itself had started with Hemant in a similar state.

We have become great fans of Jungle Lodges, so the next trip is to K-Gudi - in BR Hills. Watch this space for a report after October.


Anonymous said...

great post

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