Monday, April 26, 2010

Bangalore Classic Scooter Club!

In the '70's when we were kids where did we ever think that our Dads 'khataara' scooters would become the rage today in the 21st century. Imagine that vespa or Lamby that many of us learnt to ride have become cool with a group here in Bangalore who get tog once a month in Cubbon Park to exchange news about their 'beauties'!
It started as a Face Book site according to Siddharth Naidu one of the founder memb ers and today has over 45 members on the rolls!
A very cute idea, it was such a great experience to go out on Sunday to cover them for the Hindu, as they had come together for their first Anniv Celebrations!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Turtle Bay is completely eco friendly!

Just back from a weekend of complete and total bliss. We went to Turtle Bay, a resort in Kundapur. For some reason I was unable to go, Steves Exams, Mum B'day, College corrections, something or the other had me postponing the trip. Finally what a great gem we stumbled on! Turtle Bay is an environmental journalists delight. Simple room, simple toilets, simple everything including the khaana. The main USP is the sea, the sand and snorkelling and suba diving. The cabanas come at just 1500 a day with simple coastal food at cost price. I mean just nimbu paani when you go out in Bangalore is 25 bucks. Here it was 15 which is much more wallet friendly!Fresh fish fry, squid bhajjies, Crab Sukha, the place fed us and looked after us really well.
We took the Volvo bus down which made it great fun. Overnight and you are there bright and early to enjoy the day in the resort.
Look at the beach pics and you can see what I mean. The rocks had carbuncles on them. Something I had not seen at such close quarters!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Harri Stojka and his gypsy swing ensemble

I love Jazz and the Blues, so when Mini said can you cover, I said SURE!
Harri Stojka plays jazz in the swing style of Django Rheindhart who is his inspiration. So we were regaled with I will wait for you, Dark Eyes, All of me -- phew a great fav. Sweet Sue, and ofcourse among the repetoire was Minor Swing. Surprising how many people in Bangalore love Jazz and normally the BSM has free concerts. This time people paid 150 bucks to come in and there was no standing space even! Apparently Harri has been playing from the time he was six. What a musician, effortless and brilliant, which is natural as he has Roma Gypsy roots!
I took Steve along and he pounded his feet through the evening which was a great stress release after his exams which he finished today!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

It seems to be Bulbul time!

Every single morning I have a Bulbul call out from the trees in front on the pavement which I planted along with Dave and Andy when they were little guys. Today it was calling out from the drumstick tree in the fallen house behind. Prob its nesting time, or foraging for food for its babies time. Whatever it is, its such a great sound to hear while I work here on my comp. Reminds me of the blackbirds in Amsterdam and Swansea. They called out endlessly and kept me company during the long months writing my dissertation!
I guess Bulbuls too have to evolve with all their natural habitat vanishing while our cities become concrete jungles. Thank God they do rather than die away like the sparrows did for a while and seem to be making a slow combeback at last.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pics at Cleo's!

Had to take pics for The International Indian. Frank decided the pics Janet had given me of herself were not interesting enough for the Cleo story for his mag -- I silently agreed but was concerned if I could shoot without the required fancy lens. So I marched off today and just went on clicking.
I think I have done a good job, but lets see what Frank says. Last time he said very diplomatically that I wrote better than my pictures!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CSR is a great concept!

I intially thought - yeah yeah! these corporate honchos have to salve their consciences by doing stuff for the poor! But over the years I have seen whatever 'stuff' is being done is solid and very helpful through CSR (corporate social responsibility)
At the Serai the Cafe Coffee Day who own the resort are training 150 disadvantaged kids to work in cafes across the country, not just in theirs. They are given their board, lodging, uniforms and everything for that year and then if they feel like joining they join Cafe Coffee Day or wherever they can get absorbed.
Take a look at the pics. I felt so great looking at them. Nice smart young kids, who by the looks of it have a bright future ahead of them.
Kudos to Coffee Day -- call it whatever, but you are doing a great job!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Civet cat coffee!

It came as a huge shock to me when Dr Pradeep Kenjige, head of the R & D dept of Coffee Day in Chickmagalur recounted the tale of Civet Cat coffee. Considered one of the most premium and expensive coffees in the world Civet Cat coffee has hammered home to me that we humans are a perverse lot, and in our lives there has to be that all important desideratum - which is preferably something other humans might not consider desirable.
It is said, Madonna loves it and wont drink any other - Kopi Luwak is made from the beans of coffee which have been eaten by the Civet Cat and passed through its digestive tract - and YES! defecated. Apparently in the stomach of the cat, enzymes seep into the beans which cut the bitterness and make it one of the most aromatic coffees in the world!
Look closely at my picture, you can see the civet cats pooh with the coffee beans totally intact.It's in the Amalgamated Coffee Bean museum in Chickmagalur. The cat looks for only the ripest coffee berries to eat for their pulp. So only 2000 kilos or so are made of this 'tasty' treat annually, as civet coffee is still gathered from the excretions of civet cats in the wild. Ugh!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rainwater harvesting mandatory!

It's good to hear that Karnataka has made RWH mandatory in the state, but whats more interesting is that hotels have been made responsible for their waste water management as well. At last when the spectre of no fresh water looms high in Karnataka, the government has placed policies in place which will force the hands of the wasters.
People dont have water to drink and cars and gardens are watered with fresh water. Thats a crime. We also have to educate our servants about conserving water, as they are the biggest offenders in the home.
They are unable to understand that yes, its bore-well water, but thats decades of saving by mother earth, that we are just wasting and once its over, then what?

Waste water is excellent for the garden. I saw the huge diff in using waste water and fresh water in The Serai's coffee estates. It's time we realised that and forced big MNC's to use that water for their massive, manicured lawns. Not fresh water which is the birth right of all.
The picture is of the RWH lake in The Serai. Such a pleasure to see this natural pond thick with bull rushes, in the height of summer, keeping the surrounding water table up obviously.
The second picture of the Waste Water Management system set up in The Serai.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Coffee Blossom!

Every time I walk in a coffee estate the beauty of the coffee bloom never fails to entrance. Even though the perfume is so heady and strong, particularly if you take a walk very early in the morning, I still enjoy it.
Apparently now because of the change in Climate and the infrequency of rain, the blooms which need showers to blossom are showered with sprinklers instead! Well I guess man has to mimic nature if he is still to be able to reap her bountiful harvests, especially with coffee which has made the estate owners really very rich!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My villa in The Serai!

You know as a travel writer, cum environmental journo, I get to travel and travel and travel and see ever so many resorts and hotels that I am a trifle jaded with the luxury.
However The Serai was something else. It was gorgeous. I loved every minute of my stay there and the fact that we had really nice colleagues heightened the whole experience. In three days we were pals and hung around chatting like Bulbuls and eating like elephants.
I am writing the piece for various magazines and whoever decides to go after reading my review, will never be dissapointed.
ALSO, I have been a coffee addict for years and then suddenly decided to switch off for personal reasons. Drinking coffee reminded me of days I would rather forget, so now I have become a total tea drinker.
But going to The Serai, in a flash I realised what I was missing for the last two years.It was that chilled Frappe, it was Dr. Kenjige's persuasive skills in the factory, it was that walk in the lush coffee estate. The Serai relaxed me into a quiescent state, where I have gone back to enjoying a great cup of coffee all over again - forget the past, it will never come back again!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Angie's Easter art!

For all these years all we could get for Easter were stone hard icing and flour 'eggs' from All Saints, or waxy tasting bunnies from Nilgiris. There was no other choice and we were stuck with buying chocolates instead.
Last year I was in Bonn before Easter so I got some great stuff, but ofcourse everything was very expensive.
Now we have Angie, using her gift for not only making yummy tasting Easter goodies, but they even look super. I put them out on the lawn and shot them a while ago so you could see.
Aren't they great?
However I have no Rashme here to rag me like she did about the Christmas tree and say- I am going to eat it!
Eating the bunny will take some time for sure. Its really beautiful

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Petunias everywhere in the city

When the students in college gave me a pot of Petunias for the New Media conference I was thrilled, as I prefer a growing plant to cut flowers.But now I have noticed that all over the city petunias have been planted in the western style of putting down potted plants at traffic circles.
While going to book air tickets to Port Blair for Bonny and Steven on Andrews flying miles I noticed the petunias near the Vidhana Soudha, Hudson Circle, even in Cubbon Park and at the Vittal Mallaya road end.
This seems to be the season for them as they are blooming abundantly as can be seen from my pot.
Did you know Petunias have a delicate fragrance like Carnations? They do!