Travelogue: Solo backpacking trip – Gokarna

THUMB RULE – If your trip is accompanied by a gang of gurls, then guys might just cancel their prior appointments, could even take sick leaves. If it’s not, then even after  ‘coaxing’  they wouldn’t show up. Anyways, so I made my own Ekla Chalo Re trip on the long weekend starting 29th Sep, as I had taken a leave on 1st Oct n 2nd Oct is Bapu Jayanti – National Holiday. Locking yourself up for 4 days is Bangalore is well-nigh unthinkable for me.

The journey:

29th Sep: Initial plans with a gang, was to Goa….(few dropped – plan changed)…Pondicherry…(rest dropped – plan dropped)….finally, thought of Gokarna. I had never been to this place but have heard quite often about this. Woke up on a Saturday morning, so why not make it there – I said to myself.  Immediately logged into RedBus/ TravelYaari and was lucky enough to get a single to-fro ticket as all seats were packed for the weekend. Boarded the bus at 7:30pm sharp near the East End stop. Plugged in the headphones and went on to my good old pal – FB. The best thing about Social Networks is that they too travel with you – Thanks to the power of 3G! Updated few statuses – a self-assuring one’s here. And after hours of listening to music, went into the limboland.

The arrival and stay:

Day 1(30th Sep):

The view through the mountains to the arrival point reminded of my Saklespur trip. Reached Gokarna check-post around 8:30am, also known as Maruti Katte point (this is where you have to come to board the bus back to Bangalore). Next thing to do was to reach the beach side. Surfed through Wikitravel on my BB and called up few hotels at Om Beach which were filled. Hence, boarded an auto to Kudle Beach for I had a gut-feel that Kudle has more reasonable and better places to stay. Bargained the auto-ricks from 150bucks to 90 (they might not come down from 100/- though). On my way saw this board Namaste Yoga Farm (the contact no. given in the page may not work, do contact Amit – 96205 69868 for bookings), asked him to take me there. I fell in love with this cottage the moment I went to the reception! I checked-in. It was time to take a shower and relax! But before that, I shot a few pics of this wonderful lush green farm-house.

This is where I stayed

This is where I stayed with my blissful solitude.

A neighboring cottage at Namaste Yoga Farm

Namaste Yoga Farm – The way to my cottage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now, I headed to the beach for some breakfast. After walking for a while I found this lovely beach-side restaurant (Mango Cafe) which is going to be the pivot point of my entire trip as I keep narrating.

The cafe in yellow is Mango cafe. Here most of my trip time was spent. Lazing, relaxing, hogging n sipping in solitude. 🙂

1st view from the cafe to Kudle beach as I had my Spanish Breakfast + a glassful of tea (oh it was a long glass):

The ebb and flow

After having breakfast and lazing at the cafe for an hour, gazing the vast expanse of the sea along with the greenery formed by the surrounding mountains and headed by coconut trees (the cafe boys are very sweet as they won’t get you the bill until you asked them even though I sit for hours without a jolt), I started walking towards OM Beach after asking directions to the locals by the beach side. It’s a small trek at the fag-end of the beach, the trek is around 20mins to OM Beach.

A couple walking hand-in-hand at Kudle

View of Kudle Beach from its left end

There are navigation marks from Kudle to Om Beach as you trek up and reach the plains are somewhat like these:

Navigation marks en route Om Beach

On my way to Om Beach (a bird couple busy on their date)

Reached Om Beach:

The shape of the beach depicts the sacred Hindu symbol – OM, hence the name.

I thought of spending some time at the beach, n get a few shots of me clicked. Couldn’t find a decent looking chap at that moment, so, approached some dude who was half-naked (from bottom). Gave some SLR lessons prior to clicking only to notice – this time I am a victim of Photography Fail!!!. Below pic explains:

A worse victim of Photography fail. This time the photographer himself!

After spending some time at Om, I headed back to Kudle to experience the twilight walking through the beach, sipping beer at Mango Cafe.

As I reached Mango cafe around 5:45pm, the dark clouds suddenly started invading the beach with a heavy shower imminent – it looked some what like this:

As I sit at Mango cafe at twilight with suddenly the dark clouds invading n hovering over Kudle. A heavy shower imminent.

And as expected, it started pouring heavy after some 30mins and just when I was sipping my beer on my own with some firangs and nice people around who I cracked a conversation until 10:30pm which is when I left the Cafe and headed to rest in my cottage.

Sheer bliss – U’re back 2 ur beach…seated at a beach side cafe, with d small surrounding mountains sipping beer…n just at twilight – the rains start pouring heavily with thunders n lightning.

Day 2 (31st Sep):

Woke up around 8am to freshness of the farm-house and felt the aroma of nature. Now today’s agenda – draw some cash from Gokarna town, come back to the cottage, take a shower and explore Half-moon beach after a brunch.

A view of the Gokarna beach while heading to the town to draw cash and explore the temples.

As I enter the town:

A beautiful street as I enter Gokarna town

Vendors ready outside the temples with offerings to the Lord

Some different flowers in front of Ganapati temple

I was back to my farm house, after some uphill/downhill walks and clicks, draped in just a towel relaxing in a jute chair. This is when I found a thud beside me as if someone threw something to me. Suddenly, I discovered it was a snake and it wasn’t moving. Looking at it, even I cautioned myself, did not move (there was a sense of shock and awe in the mind) and gave a frantic call to the cottage assistant so that he keeps a watch on it movement. Thereafter, I rushed to grab my cam ASAP and asked the helper boy not to disturb the snake. And here are some vivid pictures that would tell you the story on what I saw:

Snake that felt with a thud besides my chair on which I was seated with a lizard head in its mouth

The snake is now aware of human beings around him, so perhaps cautioned on any attacks to it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And wasting no time, it had to escape from unreliable ruthless human beings, with the prey slowly gulping into its  throat:

With no 2nd thought, gobbling up the lizard head in its mouth

I have never known snakes too camouflage. The color blue changing to the dry wood underneath it.

Soon after the ordeal, I started on my mission to explore Half-moon beach,which does mean I’ll have to walk through Kudle and Om as well. Already one beach had been covered i.e. Gokarna beach. Now rest 3. (Paradise beach, is yet another secluded (5th) beach but has been taken away by Forest deptt. and is closed now for general public) Had my usual lunch at Mango cafe who’s prices are way reasonable than any pub in Bangalore or shack in Goa. Had a beer and then got going.

Few folks I met at Kudle beach on Day 2

A kid playing football as his mom quite oblivious in her game against the sands.

As I headed Om beach again, made few friends on my way:

Met this nice chap Hari who’s now a facebook friend. Happy to get him few portraits/memories that he wanted. 🙂

So after around 90 mins of walking and some small treks, I did some photoshoot of these folks at OM Beach and without wasting much time headed towards Halfmoon beach. I had to keep time in mind for this was my 2nd and final day when I have to board a bus to return back.

Greeted by eagles that flew across the path to Halfmoon Beach

As I trek towards Halfmoon beach through these serene and breathtaking views

A light house or possibly a view point to the Paradise beach that comes as u head further. It’s more secluded.

Finally, I reached Halfmoon beach. It was totally secluded. It was just me and me. The time was around 4:40 pm. I could even run naked on the beach and there won’t be anyone to notice. 😉

A sense of accomplishment as the trek was little longer around 40mins, than the other beaches. And also a bit more adventurous as there wasn’t anybody who accompanied me.

Few shots of the beautiful and serene Halfmoon beach:

Half moon beach, towards the Paradise beach side

Half moon beach, towards the OM beach side

Spending some 15-20 mins, I headed back. And the thrill and jitters and stress were never so evident on my face than this moment when I actually lost my way back as there were no such marks that lead to OM beach or vice-versa. There were bifurcations. I had no clues which path I took but to realize that I went back to Half-moon Beach again!! I was petrified at this moment as it was getting late and I dint have a torch with me once there’s a nightfall!  I gave a call to one of my friend and let her know the situation. I called up the farm-house owner to keep him informed. He too couldn’t help much. There was no one as it was a Monday and already evening. I had to catch my bus back too. I can’t afford to waste time. Then, i tried searching for some polythenes, bottles (U know this is India, so litters are the marks), plastic to trace my way back. Somehow I found the directions correct. But never had I been this panicky. Below picture is the outcome of it. I tried clicking some snaps there from my Blackberry, so in case I never made it, someone should find them and make a movie on me like Christopher McCandeless ‘s in Into the Wild.

All pictures were shaky even though I tried to make my hands firm.

Eventually made my way back and reached Kudle. Was happy to see fire, if not bonfire but the Firangs burning the coconut tree branches.

Hence, came to the end of my trip on Day 2. I made it bang on my estimated time. Grabbed a beer at Mango cafe. It was around 5:45pm. I headed for a shower in my farm-house. My bus was at 7:30pm. The farmhouse dude booked an auto-rick for me which was waiting for me around 6:30pm. As I stepped out of my guest house, there were some nicely clad pretty ladies heading to the same point where their autos were stranded. I am never short of cracking a conversation, am I? So figured out they too were traveling back in the same bus to Bangalore – SeaBird Tourists .… 😉

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Ways to identify a Photographer

 

She: Hey, Vish is a photographer.
He: Oh really! Which camera do you use?
Me: I just click pictures. Do I qualify now??

It’s practically pointless to showcase your work to someone or to introduce your passion to someone whose 1st question would be which gear you use for Photography. That itself is an insult to the photograph and the owner. There are some who may as well, uninvited, ask you the same after seeing a nice picture about the kind of camera you use, as if once you hand it over to them, they would beat the shit out of you with some of the best award-winning Nat-geo pictures clicked from their magical hands!!

So here you have them as photographers. Now that they have the basic knowledge of what I carry i.e. a Nikon/Canon and a photo-editing software, you have some of the best ignored talents now surfacing as photographers. Not even budding, but pure professional photographers, who use SLRs only to click pictures. Every soul on earth knows D is for Digital. Have you ever tried asking them the full form of SLR? If not, try right away.

Since it is a fashion these days to be an SLR Photographer but may not necessarily mean Photography, here are few ways how you could identify them:

  1. Profile Pictures: Be it Facebook profile or a page, a DP with your D-SLR is a must! And your pose is the mundane “focusing through a view finder” with enormous attention that even scientists wouldn’t be sharing with electron microscopes. Poor Point-n-Shoot owners must be feeling left out.
  1. Watermarks: I always believed watermarks are required to establish the identity against theft or plagiarism of your authentic work. But what I do not understand is the usage of watermarks with HUGE BOLD/ITALIC fonts (XYZ Photography) in the mid of the picture or everywhere (minimum 3 places) in your picture that at times one wonders whether the font is the SUBJECT or the picture beneath the font is the subject! Again, they are Fotugraphers, you see.
  1. Borders: The look and feel of your pictures does get enhanced with borders, but what’s up with Black-Thick-White-Slim-Grey-Fat layers of border!!! I guess I need a magnifying glass now to actually see the content of your photo.
  1. Facebook FanPage: Oh dear! This was the only missing link so far. An FB page is free of cost. Let’s create one, make use of ‘Invite Friends’ & FB messages and spam all our friends and friends-of-friends until they LIKE it! Now, on your FB feeds Vishy likes Sissy’s Photography. Some no-brainer who loves liking all pages will go ahead and like it for sure. Voila! You have so many fans!!! But none have seen your pictures yet. You’re confident and go to pub to boast in front of that chick how awesome you’re at clicking and that she should be ready to pose for some (on bed).
  1. Facebook Albums: Your albums are named “Himalayas rock”, “Corbett National Park” etc but neither you see mountains, nor animals in them. Just humans with thick fat lenses posing with tripods, concentrating as if they are about to kill a lion. Longer the lens, better is the flaunting(acting). Okay! Where’s the content yaar?

IDENTITY CRISIS STILL?

So, these were the sure shot ways to identify the photographers around you. Yes, I own an SLR but I don’t consider myself as a photographer yet, for I do not qualify any of the above 5 criteria. I just love clicking. That’s my passion.

The truth behind Photography, however, is that the best and most creative pictures in almost all realms of life are anonymous.

P.S. The picture you see is a mock. I just couldn’t tamper more than that. In reality, the ones am talking about are worse than the above.

We are the World Champions.

This is kinda awkward that after writing a post “10 reasons why I love Football, FIFA than Cricket” that raised quite a few eyebrows, I am compelled to write about Cricket.

Yes, because like every Indian lad, I was also born with Cricket, watching Sachin Tendulkar. I love FIFA but I do not follow club matches. I am not mad about IPL either. I love anything when it comes to patriotism, & conforms to national pride.

This, my friends, was an overwhelming moment in the history of Cricket for every single person of this Nation, apart from few women who never understand Cricket & also won’t understand why men love Cricket so much.

India becomes World Champion in Cricket, bagging the ICC World Cup 2011 home, and right at home.

It’s not just about being World Champions in ODI, but we are ranked #1 in Test Cricket which is the then genuine form of Cricket, when introduced as a sport.

Without any further introduction, let me talk about the moments that led to the historic victory. Again, this was the 1st Cricket WC being played in the life-driven Social Networking era, where people aren’t just watching the match on TV or elsewhere but simultaneously playing it right through their statuses on Facebook & Twitter.

Right when the Indian veteran openers crumbled early to the Sri Lanka pacer Lasith Malinga, as usual people on FB/Twitter started flooding letters of Pessimism & lost hopes on the Cup. But I had my faith intact; for I knew this time the trophy was ours. Few words of Optimism that I shared among my friends on Social Networks:

What I wrote on FB,

Let me make this clear guys, we r not a team that was during Mohd. Azharuddin, where once Tendlya went out, d next hope were Azhar, then Jadeja!

We’ve a much better team who av gotten us into finals by beating the 3 time WC Champs – AUSTRALIA! All pessimists, please book ur tickets to Lanka….MAIN AAG LAGANE WALA HOON unko! Jai Bajrangbali! Jai Hind!

The entire thread is here.

3 nervous hours pass by; Dhoni registers the winning moment by hitting the 2nd six, & making me feel like Paul, The Octopus! Jubilant to the core, I get on the bike with my camera packed and get out on the streets to capture frenzied faces of overwhelmingly ecstatic fans of Bangalore. Below are the few shots I took of the electrifying crowd celebrating with inexplicable joy with what we call a “Once in a Blue Moon” feeling.

The scene at the petrol bunk.

 

The daddy cool with his cute daughter

The overjoyed lovely lassies

The people who thought I was a press reporter, and that I should click them. I said Yes, I work for Indian Express. They kept posing until I tried to escape.

 

Right then, what I felt as I kept clicking, is that there were 3 kinds of people in these events who get us all the happiness, sacrificing their’s.

  • Police
  • Reporter
  • Photographer

You see everyone dancing, cheering; you too wish to be a part of it but your real happiness is in ‘not-disturbing’ & ‘preserving’ these precious moments forever!

Back home, I switched on the TV to catch up with the trophy lifting ceremony I missed. The pictures of the tears of joy in the eyes of Sachin was quite an emotional moment, for almost the entire nation, young and old, which has seen him playing since 1989. I was 12 years old, yet the memories of his 1996 World Cup’s contribution to India is still so vivid. He was just a one man team then. But today the Boys in Blue have aptly paid him the “Guru-Dakshina”, the much longed tribute for all the time he has served the nation. It was as if all his pain for 21 years had been healed. And having seen 6 World Cups, this one’s special where he has felt that fullness of life, and it’s so worth it.

With Dhoni speaking his straight talk as usual, must have surely silenced his critics. I always had my deep faith rested on him. He’s the coolest captain of Indian Cricket Team could have ever had. I wasn’t born in 1983, so I can’t comment on Kapil Dev.

It was definitely a moment of pride that was felt after 28 long years, a moment that will linger on Indian hearts and soul for the next 4 years for sure. For we can now flaunt to the entire world that we’re the proud citizens of a nation of billions, i.e. India who’s #1 at the T-20s (right when the format was introduced, 2007), #1 in Test Cricket and #1 in ODIs.

We are the leaders in Cricket. We are WORLD CHAMPIONS! Vande Mataram.

Pic Courtesy: Yahoo India

Fireflies Festival of Sacred Music – 2011: Photoblog

Away from the city that shuts down at 11pm, away from all the hustle and bustle of the chaotic urban life and most importantly away from annoying smoky traffic to the outskirts, keeping awake for 12 hours of soul-stirring music is quite an experience! This was my 1st visit and 9th edition for Fireflies.

The last I was awake all night, till dawn was in my 1st project in my current company.

Well, I am talking about the Fireflies Festival of Sacred Music that is held annually at Fireflies Ashram, off Kanakpura Road, at Dinnepalya. The festival starts at 7 pm and continues unabated until the sun rises. The stage is set under the hood of a huge banyan tree, in an open amphitheatre, adjacent to a lake where thousands of music lovers irrespective of their region or religion, throng in to celebrate the spirit of music and discover the oneness between them and mother earth. The theme for this years’ festival is Indian Food Sovereignty.

12 hours non-stop (7pm – 7am); 12 bands; 12 genres of music & passionately inebriated crowd – Fireflies Music Festival shows you the spirituality in Music.

Each band were unique in their own way. And the sole credit goes to the organisers of the festival who have made this increasingly popular for choosing from a gamut of music genres ranging from Western fusion to Classical fusion. The most popular genres played at the festival are mostly Folk Rock, Soul Fusion, Carnatic, nuances of Sufi, Qawali, Kannada folk, Reggae and Rap, Percussion, Jazz, Blues, Soul stirring Veena, Indian violin and drums all performed by maestros.

This year’s line up where the following:

1.   Thermal and a Quarter
2.   Swarathma
3.   Something Relevant
4.   Moon Arra
5.   Spinifex with Dr Mysore Manjunath
6.   The Bicycle Days
7.   Esperanto
8.   Dollu Kunitha
9.   Parvaaz
10.  Sandesh lays UK
11.  Vedanth and Bindu
12.  Faiyaz Khan
13.  Yodhakaa

 

Although I felt few bands were replaced by few others (who couldn’t possibly make it) but not even a single band was below expectation or unentertaining. Here’s what I could possibly capture from my lens and the bands that I was really fond of. Since I was at the edge of the amphitheater, for by 7:30pm the seats were occupied with people resting over mats, so the subjects are quite distant.

Spinifex with Dr Mysore Manjunath (Contemporary jazz, impro, metal, world)

This band was the best enthralling band that simply got the crowd standing to them and shouting “Once More” twice. So they performed twice after their scheduled end of show.

 

Swarathma (Folk Rock, Fusion)

This was my 2nd best and the crowd’s most awaited band.

 

The Bicycle Days (Alternative rock)

Simply amused with the energy of these guys. And yes the guitar strings.

 

Moon Arra (World Music)

One of crowd’s yesteryear’s favorite.

 

Esperanto (Indie, Carnatic, Western Classical)

Geetha Navale’s Esperanto project was full of panache.


Thermal and a Quarter (Indie Rock)

Entralled the crowd with their “Hey Jude” note.

 

Faiyaz Khan (Sufi, Ghazal)

Had a tinge of humor when uttered his words on ‘Sharab’

 

Dollu Kunitha (Classical Drummers)

These guys simply got into the crowd beating their drums and made everyone dance like they do at Indian Weddings.

 

Yodhakaa (Blend of contemporary and traditional)

The mix of Sanskrit slokas with contemporary music was noticeable.

One more band I actually missed taking a snap that the female community almost got grooving was Something Relevant (Indie/Jazz).

Last but not the least, the amazingly passionate music lovers of which I was a part too. With over 5k people it felt as if the whole city’s night-clubs, discos and pubs are empty. 🙂



Had I not been in Bangalore, and if this wasn’t just what it is every year, I would just think my life has been deprived of music, of the many forms of music  that actually exists in India along with the talent that carry it so well.

Bangalore, for me is the Mecca of Music. I am loving it.