Saturday, 17 June 2023

Hay from Haveri


The number of small land holders who have given up rice cultivation in our area is  increasing  at an alarming pace.    No longer do I have my farm hand or maid asking me –“So and so…. Has a stack of hay to sell – do you want to buy it?”  This would be followed by a description:

·         Which Rice variety (Red rice is a shorter plant and the other white variety has much longer hay),

·        What type of bundle (kaat as it is locally called) – the  roughly tied bundle that has just been  tied for threshing OR a Post threshing tightly tied bundle meant for piling hay in a compact manner

·        How many bundles

·        And finally the rate per bundle – have watched this grow from Rs3.50  all the way to 10 or 12 over the past few years.

So the small land holders would have about  800 to  1000  kaats, meaning a reasonable earning of about 8k to 10k from the sale of the hay.  

Ready for sale - any takers?

We would buy from several farmers and sometimes have interesting  trips to their farm to collect  the hay.

 So like I mentioned, the decline of Rice cultivation has led to a severe shortage of hay in this region.  The stock of hay which I had purchased at the start of the season was close to getting finished with no fresh stock in sight.

A sight rarely seen in the village these days - everyone gathering to help harvest and thresh each others rice fields.  

So this morning I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from one of the locals –‘A truck with hay has arrived in the village – do you want some hay?’

Sure! I said.

I left my half eaten breakfast aside and went out to move the car out of the drive way.  If they were willing to stack the hay in the attic of the cow shed, it would be lesser distance to cover on each trip. 

I was about to go back to my breakfast when the truck arrived.   It was not a very large one, two men inside the cabin and 2 riding atop the high pile of hay at the back.

I asked to see the size of the kaat and the rate – it  seemed very expensive.  Nothing less than 70 Rs each!  The size was definitely much larger than the local kaats yet the price did seem exorbitant.  I checked with the other people who had purchased it just before they reached here and found that they had paid the same amount but purchased only 50 kaats.

I decided to do the same – 50 kaats would help tide over the immediate need  and maybe I could get some at a reasonable rate from the interior villages.   The men looked disappointed when I said that I found it expensive and I would take only  50. One of them tried to convince me to take 100.  We have come from very far, the cost of  fuel itself is so much, we are not really making much money -  he said.  And they were in a hurry, so they would only pile it up in the driveway and not stack it up in the attic.

Where have you’ll come from? I asked.

Haveri.  Was the answer.

 Haveri!  Hay all the way from Haveri!  That is over 200 kms away – almost a 5 hour journey.  And here were these 4 men with their weather beaten faces, probably having driven through the night to have reached Chitrapur so early in the morning,  going  from farm to farm selling the hay.

I counted the kaats as they piled them  swiftly in the drive way, and when they reached 50, I said “Go ahead, make it hundred” 

“Aivat ondu, Aivat yerdu…….” Briskly the pile grew.

At 100 they all paused and wiped the sweat streaming down their faces and asked for water to drink. 

As they drank the water, one of them perched on top of the pile asked “Will you not take another 50…?” .  I did not have that much cash with me – oh no problem Google pay will do he said.  (I am still amazed by the reach of Cashless transactions!)

“Will you discount it if I do so ?” I asked jokingly.   “Oh no amma……we have to bear so many expenses “ he lamented

I thought to myself – a meal for 4 at an upmarket restaurant in Mumbai  would  probably cost  the same as what I need to spend on the hay.  4 well fed people  in the Airconditioned ambience of a nice restuarant and 4 tired looking men  having purchased the hay from probably several small struggling farmers in distant Haveri, travelling so far to make a living.  4 satiated people who would forget what they had eaten at the meal in a few days. And a huge bovine family who would gratefully munch on this hay at least  till Rice harvest time.

Go Ahead, I’ll take another 50 I said. And was rewarded with a vigorous head nod and an extra kaat at the end of the counting. 

The whole procedure took about 30 minutes and off they went busy getting the directions of the next farm on the phone.

So now I have Hay from Haveri for the cows.  I wonder whether it tastes any different from the hay from Chitrapur.  If my cows tell me I will surely let you all know!


Tuesday, 17 January 2023

Life Express’22


A whole calendar  year  just whizzed past and I feel like a solitary being on a dimly lit railway station watching the bogeys of Life Express’22 thunder past.  Did I miss the train…..was I supposed to be on it……well I will try and catch the next one for sure…….but a whole fortnight has already slipped past and I can barely hold on to the handle bar………….

Trying to catch my breath and wedge my foot firmer on the foothold,  let me reflect on the year gone by…..


January had me with an armload of pups,

All black and cuddly.

Fat and waddly,

Endless meals of eggnog and ragi porridge

Broth with chicken all creamy and rich

Methi-chicken biscuits for the new mum

Lest she have a problem with lactation for the young ones

Tch tch tch tch tch tch……tch

And they all race behind me out into the yard,

Meals done , poop and pee

A  robust game and they are ready to sleep

Six times a day this routine

Saw me all thru January

Right into feb,,,,when to their new homes they went!

Feb saw the arrival of a new hen

The previous one met a sad end

When I forgot to close the cage door one night

The mongoose seemed to have got her…. Such a sorry plight

March spun me around on work

Was the rest all leisure girrrl?

A trip to Varanasi had me all charged up,

But an  online tender process caught me in a vice like grip.

Oh… I missed all the fun things with the group on this trip.

April brought a kind of a lull,

almost akin to one before a storm

The wave of work never abated,

Keeping at bay despairing thoughts, I accepted.

May brought fresh agony

The memories - last year’s,

Tore thru and brought fresh tears

June had me in the pits

A close friends’ grief over

An estranged daughter

Had me shed more tears with her

July spun me on work trips again

Chennai and Patiala helped me escape the rain

But then it had its vengeance in August

Floods never seen before – a cloud burst

Boundary walls washed away

Collapse of the partially built bridge over the holle

Closed all access roads and had me house bound

A brave attempt to cross the holle with the 4 wheel drive

Had me struggling to get out, what a relief to get back on safe ground!

September brought some respite from the rain

But then 2 new calves saw me extra busy again

Huge cauldrons of gruel, spiced with ginger

Sweetend with jaggery, flavoured with pepper

A load of methi for the new mums too

Oh watch them slurp it up

Hopefully there will be enough milk, for some months to come!

October brought a sad event,

With the passing away of a great soul

My dear father-in-law

Just short of a century by 2

A life well lived,

Discipline, honesty and integrity

We learnt from him and much more!

November had me travelling again,

A solo trip to soothe my soul

The mountains offered a solace

With just their shadows and silence!

All too soon it is December,

The last bogey on Life Express ‘22

A long pending trip to Vellore,

When holiday rush have all websites saying – Tickets? No more!

Booked a cab and drove across

And got a taste of Bangalore traffic woes

Nice road is not so Nice any more!

The last day of the year brought a rush of memories

Barbecues with the family,

Dad’s home, resounding with laughter,

Siblings and cousins all together

Those merry days have passed away,

Learn to enjoy your solitude

Says the vast silent sky

Learn to enjoy the silence

Says the thundering Life Express’22 just gone by.



Dear Readers, Thank you for all your likes and comments......I would really appreciate if  I could know who has posted the comments as most of the time I can only see it as Anonymous

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Picking up the pieces….


Pick up the pieces

Try to join them again

So what if they don’t fit

…to make what it once was,

Try to join them again

And make something new

A mismatched piece is not the end

It is the whole that counts

Look at it from a distance

And see the threads running through

The seams may jumble and go askew

But don’t turn it around and look

There may still be some beauty

When it all come together

Don’t disregard this messy  Patchwork

After all, this is what we call Life!


My sewing machine is jammed. It is almost 4 years old, but one year of not using it and the humidity here probably led to this .

  The pile of unfinished projects is so high that even Kippi does not climb and perch on top.  I start sorting out the mess  - I really need to tidy this up.  But the jammed machine – no amount of cleaning and oiling seems to help.  Luckily I am able to get the phone number of a Sewing Machine Repair guy who can come home and repair it.  And he does!

So my machine is back in action.  The first thing I tackled was the pile of ‘To be Repaired’  stuff.  Below that I found  a quilt top which I had begun a long time back.  It was too small to make anything usable.   It also looked so dull and insipid now.  

Nevertheless, maybe I could just complete it and use it for the dogs.  So I sorted out the couple of messy boxes and pulled out all the similar coloured pieces of fabric.  It  was a ‘Random Piecing’ quilt – so any size of square or rectangular piece works. The rotary cutter was completely rusted, thankfully the scissors were not!   Did not put much effort into ironing the pieces – I just wanted it to be done fast.

But as the quilt ‘grew’ to a reasonable size, I  spread it on the floor  to take a look – and  hey, that did  not look as bad as I thought! 

I mulled over picking the right coloured border and finally settled on a white. 

  Now it looked even better.  I decided the dogs could just have something else, this quilt could turn out into something worth using.  Maybe a floor quilt – so I drove to the fabric shop and got some really thick casement material for the backing. 

I thought you said it was for us.........?

A very simple Maze pattern to quilt the layers together 

And with the help of some ‘Quilting Tutorials’ on Youtube, managed to give it  almost perfectly Mitered Corners.  

and here it is - the half  finished  project finally completed!


Sunday, 16 January 2022

Trying to begin anew.


Just when you think that life couldn’t get any better, it hits you harder than you can ever imagine, leaving you broken, dazed, shattered….

And you have got to carry on….

Everything else is the same, the sun still rises and lights up the tops of the coconut trees in that brilliant morning glow, the calves still bleat out their hummaaee at the sound of the milk vessels, the hornbills still shriek out their cacophony, the flowers still bloom………

My eyes still continue to see all this and my ears still continue to hear all the sounds.  But there is a stillness in my heart -  a silence, a void – no music plays here, no sound evokes a lilting  melody….

But I must move on.. 

Probably the first few weeks are the easiest – one lives in an  unbelieving daze, surrounded by a comforting cushion of friends and relatives.  Then one has to move on and get down to the business of sorting out one’s life - As in getting down to doing the paperwork…. The legalities, the documentations – that’s when it hits you the hardest – NO you cannot live in an alternate reality – you have got to come out and face it.

You have got to learn new skills – of dealing with people the kind of whom you have never dealt with before, of doing the rounds of government offices, which you never cared to find out more before….the list is pretty endless…

But in all this, there is a force that takes you through the dark days, help comes from the least expected places, people reach out with their warmth and care even from miles across, friends and relatives turn up leaving their own busy schedules aside to assist you when you need it the most….

I have been overwhelmed by the messages I received and the love and virtual hugs sent across miles.  And one recurrent note in almost all the messages has been an encouragement to write again.  It has been hard, and but for your love and support dear readers, this blog of mine would have been silenced.

I hope to write again as I have done in the past few years, and when I feel the strength I may put up the to-be-published posts that I had written during happier times.

Gratitude to all who supported and reached out!

Sunday, 4 July 2021



28th Oct 1959 - 27th May 2021

The path is sunny and bright. 

A more beautiful life couldn’t have been had. 

We walk along, enjoying every breath, every minute.


The ground beneath seems to give way.

Everything seems to be slipping away.

Flung into an endless abyss.

Of darkness

And despair.

Hope and a frantic foothold.

I’m confident I can pull ourselves out.

But no.

The foothold gives way

We are flung further into the depths.

Clutching at straws,

Laboured breaths,

The incessant beeps

Flashing lights of the ICU monitors

Faith and Hope

Darkness and Despair

And then

It is all over.

I am flung out


The sunlight hurts my eyes

I grope around

Shards of my broken heart all around.

The silence is deafening.

The road ahead is in darkness.

What was and Has been.

What is…What will be….

Bruised and Broken

I need to stand tall

The last words

The confidence and strength

Reposed in me

I need to carry on

A legacy, A dream.

The strength envelops me

Albeit from another Realm.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Touch – Me – Not!

Mimosa Pudica or Touch-me-not is a small weed that grows abundantly on our farm.  Tiny compound leaves with a small lavender coloured ball like flower, this plant droops down and closes its leaves on the slightest touch!  Even a drop of water falling on it elicits the same response. 

The last few weeks of the monsoon has our farm looking lush green – some places are difficult to walk through because of the tall grass and weeds. 

A peacock strolls through the greenery

  We systematically cut patches of it for the cows for their late evening snack, but the weeds seem to grow faster than we can cut them.  One of the main tasks during this time is picking the fallen arecanuts.  The people who harvest the arecanuts cannot climb the trees during this time as the tree trunks tend to get slippery.   So we have a lot of fallen arecanuts which if  not picked and put away to dry, would sprout or rot away.  By itself picking arecanuts is a pleasant task and not as strenuous as picking coconuts.  But the nuts being small, they are difficult to pick and we have to stick our hand into the grass and weeds to reach them.  

Can you spot the fallen arecanuts...can you see the Touch-me-nots?

This is when the touch-me-not plant makes its presence felt – for you see, the plant has sharp thorns all along the stems.  The locals call it ‘Naachi-Mullu-Gida’ which translates as ‘Shy Thorny plant’.  So I have a lot of people advising me to get rid of all the naachi-mullu-gida  because it is of no use and only a trouble while working.  But on the other hand I had heard from quite a few people that it has medicinal properties – although none could specifically tell me what it was useful for.  Anyway, we were soon to find out!

Late one evening, Vivek returned home from some visit that he had gone out for.  He had used his bike and while parking it near the compound wall, the bike slipped slightly on the gravelly mud and he placed his hand on the compound wall for support.  But the rains had loosened some of the top most stones, the stone gave way and his hand rested on the next layer of stones under the fallen one.  The next thing he felt was a sharp stinging pain on his hand!  He called out to me asking me to get a torch quickly.  I rushed out with the torch –“Something has bitten me badly – shine the light here just check what it could be” he said.  Fortunately, we could spot it – it was a scorpion – with its tail still furiously upright ready to deliver another sting if necessary.  It had been disturbed out of its resting place and was obviously furious!

Tail upright - ready  to sting - pic clicked on a different day of a scorpion that we caught in a plastic box to be released far into the forest

Now What?  From what we had heard or read about scorpion stings -we knew that it could be extremely painful, with the pain lasting for over 24 hours in some cases. My maids’ mother had been bitten a few months ago and her description of her mother writhing in pain the whole night was not a pleasant one.  None of them had known any antidote or medication for it and she had suffered the agony.

We went into the house and as a first level treatment, Vivek washed the sting under running water.  I racked my brains trying to remember if I had read or heard any remedy for this.  I did the most obvious thing that came to my mind- I googled it – nothing more than what we already knew; and the detailed description of the pain – Vivek was already experiencing it.  Surely there has to be some local remedy.  I opened up my folder of Medicinal plants and Herbs -gosh when did I collect so much information – a lot of which I had still not read! Some of the valuable books on traditional remedies were scanned copies and a search would not work on it.  

A wealth of information collected over the years !

I randomly opened some files :

Medicinal Herbs of India

Traditional remedies of Kani tribes of Kottoor reserve forest, Agasthyavanam

Documentation of folk knowledge on medicinal plants of Gulbarga district

Medicinal Plants of Karnataka…….

And some more.   I raced my eyes over the pages searching for Scorpion bites.  …..and then suddenly I noticed the pdf file on Mimosa Pudica – the touch me not plant .

Mimosa Pudica A High value medicinal plant as a source of Bioactives for Pharmaceuticals.  Read the heading.  The first few pages looked like they were straight out of an Organic Chemistry text book. 

Remembered Organic Chemistry lessons when I saw this page!

But just after that was a paragraph titled Folk Medicine Use:  And here I found the precious sentence – In folk medicine various parts of the plant are used as an antidote to Scorpion and snake bites!!! Yes this was something that we could try.  It was more than half an hour since the bite and Vivek was sitting quietly with his eyes closed.  No the pain is not too much he said. 

  I called out to Yogesh and asked him to quickly get some nachi mullu plants.  It was close to 9 pm, he took his torch and went into the farm.  During the day in the bright sunshine, you can see these plants everywhere, but  at night, in the darkness?  But he was back soon holding a bunch of plants yanked out of the soil.  I quickly washed the soil off the plants, chopped them roughly with a pair of scissors and put them into the mixer.  Then  I took a big lump of the paste and applied it on the sting.  I kept the rest of the paste aside to reapply after some time.

I went back to the kitchen – I had to give Yogesh his dinner.  The dogs and the cat also had to be fed.  Normally  I call out to Vivek to help with  keeping our cat Kippi’s  food bowl with kibble in her favoured place,  she is a fussy one – she decides her eating place and refuses to come to the window sill which is the place that is easiest and out of reach from the dogs.  Today she wanted her meal upstairs!   I set out our dinner, and sat reading some more of the research paper on Mimosa Pudica, thinking that Vivek could rest a little longer before we had our dinner. 

Within a few minutes, he walked in.  “It is quite amazing” he exclaimed. “The pain is actually reducing!”  Wow, this was good indeed. A really good helpful remedy that probably has been forgotten by the locals over the ages.  By next morning the pain had completely gone.

An amazing remedy indeed!



Sunday, 21 March 2021

Holle Crossing.........At Midnight!

 Holle - is the stream that gushes past our farm during the monsoon and cuts off our access to the road.

The holle on an ordinary day.  Young kids gather here to play.

Our buffaloes Madhubala and Madhuwanti love to have a dip too

This is an episode that happened quite some years back, but I penned it down only now. 

It was just over a  year since we had moved to the farm and survived our first monsoon here.  The rains always brought on new challenges and we had been learning to deal with it.  And we always heave a sigh of relief when the rains end and we start seeing sunny days again.  But the  rain Gods do want to have the last laugh…….and what a laugh that is.  A final storm with the fireworks and that too in the last week of October after more than a month of dry weather. And that one storm is enough to get the holle flowing again.

After a slightly heavy downpour, this is how it looks - still mild and sober.

And so it was, that year - almost 4 weeks of dry hot weather and we thought we were really done with the rains.  It was Navaratri, we had a visitor whom we had to drop off at the station for the evening train and we also had to attend a night Pooja in a nearby temple.   The day had been overcast and gloomy, and as we left home for the station, the rains started.  Slow drizzle at first and then a proper downpour.  By the time we reached the station, the storm was picking up momentum. And the train was delayed by more than an hour.  We saw off our guest and then went to the temple.  By the time the Pooja and dinner ended, it was 10 pm.  We left for home.  The storm had not abated.  The roads were flooded all through, visibility was so bad that we were forced to go at a very slow pace.  In those days the double carriage roads did not exist and the single road had suddenly seemed to have gotten even more potholed than before.  Add to that the glare of the oncoming truck headlights,  the half an hour journey stretched to more than an hour and half.  By the time we turned off the highway to enter Chitrapur it was 11.45 pm. ‘ We are going to be crossing the Holle at the stroke of midnight’  I quipped.  The last stretch of the mud road that leads to our farm was like a rivulet. The holle is going to be mightily flooded I thought. I expressed my concern to Vivek.  ‘Oh it can't be that bad’ he said. 

As our car drew up to the last stretch where we park it; the downpour seemed to grow stronger. When we switched off the headlights and the engine, the darkness suddenly seemed overpowering.  Our mobiles did not have the flashlight in those days, we had one torch and one umbrella between the two of us.   The sight of the holle in the faint torchlight and the roaring sound as the waters gushed past made me feel a wee bit uneasy I must say.

‘Do you think we should spend the night elsewhere………’ I asked. 

‘Oh come on…this is no time to wake any one up, and home is just there’ he pointed into the pitch darkness. 

‘That is indeed very reassuring’ I said. 

‘Are you scared’ he asked. 

‘Scared, and me?  Oh no!’ I retorted.  ‘Lets go’ 

And we did.

We walked into the swirling waters in pitch darkness.  Strange objects brushed past my legs sometimes clinging and encircling before letting go.  I convinced myself that they must just be branches and leaves of trees  and creepers that I have often seen being washed down into the holle during day time.    The faint beam of the torch barely lit up the waters.  We had been through this path so many times we knew it perfectly well, The side of the embankment where we start walking is a slope with hard rock and no slush at all.  And if we keep to the routine path, all along, the ground is hard and gravelly, so in a  way it is safe to walk.  We trudged on, the waters rising all the way to my waist, the rain battering down on my head, I had given up trying to get under the umberella that Vivek was holding out for me.  The normally 4 to 6 meter wide holle was now more than 25 meters wide – not much really but the darkness, the swirling gushing waters and the rain made it seem like much more.

And then………….

There was a blinding flash of lightening!

 The entire earth seemed to be illuminated in the most stunningly beautiful light.

 The moment froze in our minds eye and the next instant the darkness was even more intense.

 The whole universe seemed to stop in time and the reverie was broken by the deafening sound of thunder.  

We didn’t realise that both of us had stopped in our tracks when the earth lit up for that brief second. We shook ourselves and trudged on.  The opposite bank was now just a few steps away.  There was a tricky patch of slush which we always avoided during the daytime to step directly onto some raised stones.  But tonight in the darkness we both missed the right path and stepped right into the slush.  I suddenly felt a stillness around my right ankle as the swirling waters were now only above that – my right foot had sunk into the slush.  Where do I place my left foot – I didn’t want both feet sinking in!  In the dim light of the torch I realised that Vivek was also struggling the same way.  I could see the rock on which we normally step just an arms distance away.  I bent over and reached it for support. Then I felt around with my left foot until I got a firm foothold.  Then I twisted my foot a bit to either side until I could loosen the grip of the sludge.  I had worn floaters which are strapped quite firmly and I could extricate my foot along with my footwear.  Vivek wasn’t so lucky, he had worn slip-ons and he managed to extricate his foot but not his footwear.  And there was no way that we were going to search for it… We pulled ourselves up on the firm rock, we had finally crossed the Holle.  We turned around and looked at it from this side – the foaming white water fall, the sparkling  swirls all looked magical now that we were safely on this side. And home was just a stones throw away.  We walked the last 50  meters dripping  and Vivek limping along -  the soft mud on the path had got washed away and the exposed stones really hurt your feet when you are not used to it.

It was indeed a relief to reach home.  The Copper Bhaan (the ancient wood fired copper vessel for heating our bath water)  was full of hot water and it never felt so good.  Followed by a glass of hot creamy milk. The perfect ending to an exciting day.

 Farm life does have its benefits and luxuries!!!

A picture of the copper Bhaan clicked on the eve of Diwali when we worship our water source and water storage vessels - reminding us to be thankful for this precious gift of water.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

Making of a Hemmudi.

 A couple of years back, I had visited Lalita’s mothers home – Lalita is my help who works on the farm as well as helps me in the house work.  In the front yard of their home I had noticed a beautiful structure made of hay.

 Intrigued, I had asked about it and they had explained that it was made by her brother Nagraj to store their harvest of rice paddy in it.  It is a traditional form of storing paddy and very few people make it now a days.  It seemed to be dying art.  I was keen on seeing how it is made and I asked her to inform me the next time her brother would make it.  ‘Oh it is made only once a year’ she said. ‘Doesn’t matter, let me know next year’ I told her.  

But as luck would have it, in spite of her informing me, we were unable to go and 3 years passed before we got a chance to see it actually being made.

So this year when Lalita informed me  that her brother was planning to make the Hemmudi a few days later, we decided to keep that day free.  He was to start at 2 pm after lunch, so we planned accordingly and went to their home.

Their front yard was spruced up and made spotlessly clean and a fresh layer of cowdung had been smeared on it.  Cow dung is a natural anti-microbial and has insect repelling properties – so is it any wonder that the traditional method of  layering the front yard with cowdung instead of cement  is still so popular in the villages? 

A spot was chosen and Nagaraj’s mother drew a Rangoli design with quick strokes.  Then bunches of hay were laid out systematically with the cut ends in the centre and the other end fanning out to make a large circle.  Once the first circle was complete, a second concentric, slightly smaller one was made on top of it and then another until innermost circle completely covered the ground. 

 All along Lalita’s young kids aged 8 and 11 scurried around bringing  bunches of hay from the stack that was a little distance away.  Soon the enormous circle of hay was ready.  A large plastic sheet was placed  in the centre to prevent grains from slipping thru the hay and also to prevent any moisture from seeping in, in case of any unseasonal rain.  Then Nagaraj lifted a large basket into which some paddy had been poured from  one of the sacks of rice lined up against the wall of the house.  He said a prayer and then emptied the first lot of paddy onto the sheet. 

His college going nephew joined in along with a neighbour to help lift the sacks and bring them to Nagaraj. He would tip each one and  flatten the mound  carefully within the circle.  After a sizeable mound was created, then the sides had to be raised.  The hay was bent upwards and a thick rope was wound around the base of the Hemmudi.  

Now the whole thing looked like a large grass tub filled with paddy.  Now the next layer of the Hemmudi wall had to be built.  The kids pitched in carrying the hay to Nagaraj who carefully placed each bunch vertically supported on the outside by the ring of hay and on the inside by the paddy.

  The ring was completed, secured with ropes and then the piling in of the paddy resumed.  So layer by layer, the Hemmudi was constructed, finally holding close to 30 quintals of paddy. 

 As the last circle of hay was being placed, Lalita’s nephew expertly  prepared a metal ring with ropes hanging around the sides, that was to go on top of the Hemmudi to secure the top in place. 

The 2 kids ran around busily bringing the hay bunches and passing them to Nagaraj who was on the top of the Hemmudi which was now almost 9 feet in height.  He covered the top with a generous layer of hay, then a plastic sheet was placed on top, followed by the ring.  The ropes hanging from the ring were securely fastened down to the sides of the Hemmudi.

  In the meantime, the youngsters had fetched some clayey mud and were busy mixing it with water to make a thick paste.  This was piled around the base and plastered into place with their hands to make a perfect seal.  

The ladies busied themselves cleaning out the remnants of the fallen hay, folding the emptied sacks neatly and sprucing up the place  and bringing in bunches of mango leaves and flowers for the Pooja. 


The Hemmudi is now finally completed, decorated with flowers and leaves.  Nagaraj’s mother brings out a platter with an oil lamp, flowers. Coconut and agarbattis.  He performs a small Pooja of the Hemmudi and then it is time for them to relax.  A feast of Chicken curry and rice has been prepared by the mother and they all troop into the house for an early dinner.  They insist on us joining them too, but it is just 6.30 pm, a bit too early for us.  So they pack  some for us to take home.  We leave for home,  happy to have been able to see the making of the Hemmudi.

And Vivek had clicked a whole bunch of videos and compiled this, click to see the video.



Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Have you ever hugged a tree?


Have you ever hugged a tree,

An ancient one,

Felt its heartbeat,

Through the wizened bark,

Heard the soft murmur

Of its leaves

Through the wizened bark

Heard tales of yore

Of a time when

It had scores of others


Standing shoulder to shoulder,

Their leaves brushing one another

In the ancient rippling breeze,

And then it stood still

Watching the others

brought down

One by one,

Making way for something

Or the other

That man felt

Was more important

Than this gnarled old tree…..

Have you ever hugged a tree

And listened to its sorrow

Through the wizened bark?

Have you ever hugged a tree?

Tuesday, 29 December 2020

And then sometimes you just get lucky!!!

 Lucky enough to be able to see Raja Ravi Verma’s Paintings in a distant city which you are visiting for just a day on work!

The year was 2009, even before we moved to the farm.  Our office work involved quite a bit of travelling.  Vivek being the seasoned traveller, always looked for flights that would minimise our time out of Mumbai, and me being the dreamer, always wanted to linger on a day or two extra and take in the sights of the cities hitherto unseen.  So when we were called upon for a meeting  in Trivandrum – Thiruvananthpuram – I jumped at the chance.  Thiruvananthapuram -  such a grand name for the capital city of Kerala – I was born in Kerala (Calicut) and hence always have a special longing to visit this state .

Now what else could we possible do in Trivandrum – ………….? 

 Visit the museum which houses the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma of course!  We could not travel all the way there and not see the paintings – that would be terrible. So I did all the research and found out all the details about the place- location, timings etc and dreamt about  spending an entire  day there.

  Ah,   but Vivek had other plans – Our meeting was scheduled for 11 am – we had a very convenient flight which would land there by 8.30 and a return flight at around 7 pm.  We need not even stay overnight he explained, while I had the most disappointed look on my face.

 But...but...Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings...I wailed!  But the flight bookings were already done.  “Don’t worry”, Vivek consoled me,  “I’m sure the meeting won’t take long - as soon as we are done, we  can go  spend all afternoon at the museum and then go directly to the airport” he said.  Meetings  getting over quickly.......I might as well sail to the moon and back....hmmmmpf!!!

All along in the flight, my thoughts were on only one thing – the museum.  Only if we finish our meeting by 1.30, we could rush to the museum .... but invariably, there would be lunch served and the prolonged discussions.   So I put away all thoughts of visiting the museum and got down to concentrating on my work.

We  hired a car for the day and as we drove out of the airport we could see people putting up flags and barricades along the roads.  When we asked, the driver informed us that there was a huge morcha/rally  in the evening and probably a lot of roads would be blocked and traffic would be diverted.  The chances of visiting the museum seemed indeed very bleak.

We reached the department at 10 am, a whole hour earlier, but  it would be better to wait there rather than some place outside.  We sat in the reception area and I got my laptop out and resumed my work  while Vivek got talking to some person who was enquiring about  our reason for being there.  There seemed so be some serious language issue and some confusion. I could hear  ‘No Meeting – …….. Sir is on leave’  

Well, well,  this kind of sounded preposterous – after having travelled all the way from Mumbai on a date and time that was conveyed to us a fortnight in advance!  The person having realised the gravity of the situation, reluctantly phoned his boss whom we had travelled to meet.  A lot of head nodding and a one sided conversation which we could not follow, the person finally turned to us and said ‘Meeting postponed to 2 pm’   

Well, well,well.......that  really sealed off any chance of visiting the museum....unless....unless ...we go right away. 

“Yes?”  I asked Vivek. 

“How far is it?”  I rattled off the exact kms – I had it down pat. 

“We’ll be back for the meeting”  he said to the person at the counter and out we rushed to the cab.  The driver not expecting us to come out so soon had wandered off , but came back as soon as we called him. He was confident that we could go to the museum and get back before 2 pm as the rally was not expected to start before 4 pm.  It was a bit risky,  but then off we went.  Half an hour later we were at the entrance of the Trivandrum Zoo. Yes the Sree Chithra Art Gallery is within the premises of the zoo.  We quickly got our tickets and went into the quaint museum.

Pic taken from the Internet  

The museum was inaugurated in 1935 by the then Maharaja of Travancore Sri Chithira Thirunal.  A beautiful bungalow built in the traditional Kerala style of architecture with sloping tile roof and polished red floor.  The masterpieces adorned the walls and I could just not have enough of looking at them.

Pic taken from the Internet  

 Two and half hours can scarcely do justice to a museum,  but still it was totally worth it. Soaked in the sight of some really marvellous Raja Ravi Varma originals and then it was time to get back to work.  We scarcely had time for a lunch so grabbed a snack at a tea stall and reached just in time for the meeting.  This time, everything was different.  The Head of the Department had arrived and a whole team was present and the meeting went off well. 

Back in the cab on the way to the airport, the diversions and road blocks made it seem that we would not reach the airport in time.  But the taxi driver sure knew the roads well and cut across through some non-existant road and got us out of the city onto a newly constructed  - or rather under construction road and raced to the airport – just in time for our return flight to Mumbai.  I leaned back into my seat my head still filled with visions of those paintings.......Just this morning I was doubtful whether I would get to see them, and in spite of all the seeming hurdles, we had still managed to visit the museum.

Sometimes, you do get lucky!

Pic taken from the Internet  

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