Red Hills, Blue Mountains…

This year we spent Easter weekend in the Blue Mountains in Ooty. The Nilgiris (Neel = blue, Giri = mountain) are part of the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves and a place I’ve wanted to visit ever since we moved down South. Don’t get you’re hopes up – I didn’t go trekking in the Mountains or discover a new species but I did have a wonderful time soaking up the atmosphere at Red Hills Nature Resort, nestled in the valley 🙂

But first things first…getting to Ooty from Bangalore involved an 8-hour long drive during which we passed through two adjacent National Parks – Bandipur and Madumalai and negotiated 36 hairpin bends! Exhausting yet exciting 🙂 especially when a mother Elephant with her baby charged us in Madumalai! That was awesomely scary 😛 They were just off the road that runs through the park and we thought they were chained, just like the ones we’d seen in Bandipur. Boy were we wrong! There’s not much scarier than an angry Mama Jumbo I can tell ya! We were shaking and screaming but it was supercool! The cars that were headed in her direction stopped dead in their tracks while we speeded off. I wish we could have stayed to see what happened, coz she was right in the middle of that road – all Queen-like – when we left her, but we were too chicken to hang around 😛

After that exhilarating experience and the 36 bends up the mountain, followed by countless bumps on a mud track that passed for a road, we finally made it to Red Hills, tired and ravenous! It was worth every jolt 😉 Lunch was great and there was fish which was a welcome happenstance 🙂 When we were rested, we were able to take in the idyllic setting of this cozy family-run resort. Flowers everywhere and birdsong, a cool breeze and stunning vistas of the Nilgiris and Emerald Lake…really…a small slice of Paradise right here on Earth. Add to the mix friendly fellow travellers, warm hosts and their extremely friendly and fun-loving pooches, 8-yr-old Moby, an ageing German Shepherd with the gentlest manner ever and playful puppy Mikah – a Golden Lab who stole our hearts – and you have the makings of a pretty special holiday 😀

I spent every moment I could bird-watching 🙂 There were so many of them…Sparrows, Sunbirds, Shrikes, Bulbuls, Great Tits and my favourite – a flock of Oriental White-Eyes. I saw a few other brightly coloured birds fleetingly that I unfortunately could not identify and a lovely black one that I can’t either. The property is surrounded by tea plantations that belong to the owners and even has a little temple of it’s own next to the campsite. And the flowers…oh so many, oh so beautiful 🙂 I’m no expert but I took pictures so you guys can exercise those ‘little grey cells’ 😉

Now for the birds!

And now for the beautiful Blue Mountains, so called because they glisten blue in the morning mists 🙂 I have no words to describe how stunning they are, how serene, how uplifting. The fact that beauty like this continues to exist on our Planet, despite us and our destructive ways, gives me hope, and reminds me of Nature’s tenacity. It’s a comforting thought. I drank in the beauty of those Mountains, etched them in my memory so that now, when I’m back in the bustle of the city, I can close my eyes and be transported in a magical instant. Like Narnia ❤ While we were there, I watched the most stunning sunrises I’d ever seen! If every day began thus, all would be right with the World n’est pas? 🙂

And so, after an idyllic 3 days, we returned to the chaos that is Home. I cannot wait to revisit and explore those mesmerising Mountains! Junior too is enamoured…more with Moby & Mikah than with them mountains I admit, but I’m not complaining. Hubby would still prefer a TV in the room (city boy that he is :P), but they do have wifi (works pretty well too), and even his urban soul cannot help but be moved in the presence of such awe-inspiring surroundings 😉 I hope it will be soon 😀

Bangalore Bytes – Lalbagh: A Walk in the Park!

Last Sunday morning found us in Lalbagh – Bangalore’s famous Botanical Garden, for a walk around the park organized by GE – Hubby’s current employer. In a mad scramble we managed to make it on time at 7 am, no mean feat in Bangalore, even on a Sunday. I don’t know what it is – but this is most certainly one of the busiest & most chaotic cities I have ever visited in terms of traffic – but I digress…

Our Guide – Mr. Vijay Kumar

It was a drizzly morning and chilly, but there were umbrellas to go around and backpacks full of munchies,  and leading us (a group of 18), was veteran Lalbagh guide and ‘guru’, Mr. Vijay Kumar. I had researched the walks online and knew that if there was anything to know about Lalbagh, then Mr. Kumar would know it and so was pretty excited at having him as our guide although my experience with guides in general, in India, has been to put it politely – awful 😛 Mr. Kumar is of course not your average guide! Aa soft-spoken gentleman, with a bamboo hat, a walking stick and impeccable English, he impressed us all with his wonderful commentary on the origins and history of Lalbagh and his in-depth knowledge of the 1800 odd species of plants that make their home here. His gentle humor and the many anecdotes he shared of his experiences over the years, made our own experience special and very informative. We were a mix of first-timers and repeat visitors and we were all agreed that his presence was what elevated our experience from just another ‘Walk in the Park’, to a true ’Nature Walk’ 🙂 The 3-hour walk didn’t seem long at all! I for one will definitely be doing it again! Also, the sumptuously decadent breakfast he arranged for us after the 3-hour long walk, at the original MTR restaurant a short distance away, is a strong motivator 😉

And now to the star of the show – Lalbagh! The Garden, today a sprawling 240 acres, was first commissioned in the mid-18th century by Hyder Ali & later expanded and improved first by his son Tipu Sultan and later by the British, for whom Mr. Kumar informed us, it was the most important garden in the Empire, second only to the Kew Gardens back home. 

The Bird of Paradise Flower! Ain't they pretty?
The Bird of Paradise Flower! Ain’t they pretty?

Mr. Kumar explained how Lalbagh is laid out mostly in straight lines, in the Mughal-style of the day, the straight lines representative of the shortest distance between God and his creation – Man! Cool! The garden has trees from all parts of the world – Australia, the Americas, Africa and even New Caledonia (a tiny island in the Pacific). There’s a tall pine named after Captain Cook that’s an astonishing 165 feet in height (Mr. Kumar shared with us how a group of school-bys he was chaperoning helped him measure it by using their shadows!), there are two massive silk-cotton trees whose trunks are as thick as a couple of elephants standing back-to-back and whose silky thread is  used in the manufacture of life-jackets and sleeping bags, there are several trees that are centuries old, a gorgeous rose garden (although we didn’t see it this time), and my favourite – an Elephant Apple tree – with fruit the size of small footballs! There’s also a Chinese Lantern Willow or some such (can’t recall the exact name, sorry :P), which was first introduced to the British when Catherine of Portugal married Charles II of England and brought it along in her dowry along with a smattering of 7 tiny islands in the Arabian Sea, that would go on to become the Bombay we know today! She was also the one that introduced ‘tea’ to the Brits apparently! Quite a woman that 😉

Silk Cotton Tree

Oh! And let’s not forget the giant prehistoric, 3-billion-year old rocky hillock that sits right at the main entrance to the park, crowned by one of the Kempe Gowda towers, now converted into the inevitable temple. The rock is one, if not ‘the’ oldest thing on the planet and is thought to be part of the original Gondwanaland – the rock mass that has given us Antartica, Africa, Madagascar, Australia, South America, The Arabian peninsula and the Indian subcontinent! Think about it – when you sit on that rocky surface, you’re sitting on something so ancient, it’s almost holy, if you get what I’m saying. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not a beautiful sight to look at, but it’s reverential all the same 🙂

The Elephant Apple!
The Elephant Apple!

Also at the entrance is a ‘Virgal’ or ‘hero-stone’, a memorial (usually in the form of a carved stone tablet), to a hero martyred in battle and next to it an ancient stone Nandi (bull), with a hole in its back that probably held a carved stoned umbrella. So Lalbagh was at some point a battlefield! There is plenty to discover in these gardens and our walk was a mere scratch on a vast surface, but it has made me hungry for more information and I look forward to many more misty mornings spent wandering around lost in Nature’s beauty. There’s the rose garden, a Japanese garden, the aquarium, and the Lake to discover. There’s cricket to be played and birds to be sighted (saw scores of parrots and eagles and kites but wasn’t carrying the zoom 😦 ), and more trees to discover! One warning – slather yourself with mosquito repellent before you visit and dress to cover your limbs, coz Lalbagh can rightly also be called ‘The Planet of the Mosquitoes’!

Virgal-Nandi Collage

And so it was back home after one of the best mornings I’ve had in a long time and certainly by far the best morning I’ve had so far in Bangalore. We missed the famous flower-show Lalbagh hosts every year, but I think I prefer to visit sans the crowds and chaos – just a wonderful, peaceful walk in the park 🙂

Thank you to GE and Mr. Kumar for a wonderful experience 🙂


NaPoWriMo – Day 27

Another picture I can’t remember having taken but one that instantly soothed me – especially on a day like today, which is going to be crazy with traveling in the big bad city!! Green will do that for you 🙂 These days in the run-up to the coming time of alleged relaxation 😉 (Are you ever really relaxed with a 5-yr-old in tow I wonder? :P), I’m feeling exactly like – you guessed it – a busy little bee! Not a bad thing except that I’m buzzing about in the kind of temperatures that make me want to migrate permanently to The North Pole!!

Maybe that’s what this little bee was thinking too – just wanting a break from all the work that they constantly seem engaged in! If this isn’t a bee, I’m sorry! It sure like like one to my inexperienced eyes! Either way, makes for a pretty picture don’t you think? And like her – quite literally, I too will be looking forward to my bed at the end of what promises to be a long if enjoyable day! 


Freedom & a Dragonfly Symphony!

Today is the day! Liberation Day! Today, after 2 months, I’m FREE 🙂

Ishaan’s started school!! He’s Happy & I’m Ecstatic, as well you may imagine! I love my son, no really, I do! But, and I know you’re with me on this readers, two months at home entertaining a toddler, while coping with my Dad’s illness, was no picnic in the park! In fact, I venture to say, a more trying and effective form of torture has not been invented! Don’t quote me on this though 😉 😛 Don’t get all serious people, just trying to reclaim my sense of humor, that’s been MIA these last couple of weeks.

After what seemed liked a lifetime (I know, I know, it was only two months!), the morning stretched in front of me, long, promising, delicious 🙂 And to think I might have had to wait for another day! Yup! Imagine that! Sacrilege! There was a Goa ‘Bandh’ today (more on that in my next post), which basically meant no public transport and a general shutdown of private enterprise including schools. Government offices were running but probably on skeletal staff. Ishaan’s school however assured me that they were open and that it was business as usual for them, and since school is only a 10-minute drive away, we decided to give it a go. It was pouring this morning (like it has been these last few days), and as I cuddled Ishaan, I must confess to feeling both relief at having my mornings back and guilt at that relief 😛 This double-edged sword of a ‘Mommy-heart’ is just so…whatever!

Ishaan was happy to be back in school! He’s been asking to go ever so often during the holidays that I dared to hope, he meant it! Turns out he did 🙂 He kicked off his shoes, and marched fearlessly into class only to slip on a damp patch of floor & land on his tush! That was enough to start the waterworks, especially since Hubby was around! But he calmed down soon enough and was swept away in his teacher’s embrace as she cooed happily in his ear! God Bless all Teachers 🙂 So with Ishaan happy at school, I spent a lazy morning tackling stuff around the house. Things that I had let slide over time. One large garbage bag of thrash and one angry outburst from Dad later, it was time for a break.

Out in the garden, the rains had taken a break too. As I walked around, I noticed a new Water Lily bloom 🙂 A vision of beauty on a slender stalk that grows in muddy water…Nature is full of miracles. The sight of that flower was such Joy 🙂 It made me feel like everything was going to turn out fine. 

My Zen fix for the day!

I took a lot of shots experimenting with my white balance settings and as I made my way back to the house, I found myself serendipitously in the midst of what can only be described as a symphony of dragonflies 🙂 They whizzed and darted around the garden to some mysterious rhythm, inaudible to us mere mortals, stopping occasionally mid-air, occasionally on a leaf or a flower, those translucent wings beating a million times a minute!! Such grace, such precision, such beauty, such freedom! In that moment I wanted to be a dragonfly. I wanted what they had. An escape to Freedom and the joy of dance! I noticed soon that some were in a mating frenzy! Perhaps that explained all the energy and joie-de-vivre 😛

This took me by surprise! Didn't intend to catch them 'in flagrante'!

It’s been so long since I’ve had a moment like this, I’d almost forgotten what it felt like. The joy of it, the peace of it, the serenity of it. I did take some shots but mostly I just sat quietly and watched, and let them heal me in the way only Nature and her wonders can 🙂

A thing of beauty 🙂

It’s been a wonderful start to my week and I wish the same for you 🙂

Here’s to Dragonflies, Symphonies and the joyful Freedom they bring!

Happy Monday, People 🙂

It’s a Crab’s Life!

Saturday evening finds us on Miramar beach, where I spent a lot of time bunking classes during my college years 😉

As Mom & Dad take off on their evening stroll, and Hubby and Ishaan play Cricket (what else!), I meander along the water’s edge, camera on the ready, to see what I can see. It is low tide and I am sorry to say there’s plenty of exposed rubbish along the shore 😦 All manner of plastic – bags, wrappers, bottles, broken glass bottles, & lots of litter :(. Thankfully, the low tide has also exposed millions of crab holes and their iridescent silver-blue inhabitants 🙂 They go scurrying across in their hundreds, leaving a patchwork of feathery footprints across the moist sand. For all their running around, they seem full of purpose, which has me wondering, ‘What is the purpose of a crab’s life?’ Other than the obvious one of providing tasty meals for us greedy humans, I mean? But I ditch all attempts at philosophy, when I stumble upon a very neat crab-style tableau right under my feet!

A little crab scurries purposefully towards what appears to be an empty hole to my unobservant human eye. I shall refer to him (If it’s a her, I’m truly sorry, but determining crab-gender is not one of my skills. Also the behavior, kind of made me veer towards the masculine!), as Crab 1 or C1. I watch intrigued, for no particular reason other than I’m close enough to get a good shot.

Aah! Here's a nice looking hole!

Turns out the ‘empty’ hole actually belongs to Crab 2 (C2), who, I can only presume has been curled up inside, minding his own business! C1 is having none of that! He wants that comfy, dank hole (crabs like the dank don’t you know!) and he wants it now!

My, my! There's a chap in the nice looking hole!

He launches a brazen attack on the slightly larger C2, who has no clue what just hit him! However, he’s very sharp (Crabs are! Who knew?), and recovers instantly to launch an equally impressive counter-attack (could he be a she then? :P).

Get thee away from me, Villain!

C1 has the advantage (perhaps coz he’s smaller & nimbler), and after a few minutes of wrestling, scurries into his newly claimed home! I watch fascinated as these two tiny beings battle it out on the sand below my feet and use their luminescent pincers and their spindly legs to duel each other for Nature’s necessity…a place to call home.

Hah! Mine!

I’m pretty impressed and manage to remember somewhere between thrust and parry, that the D 90 can also film video! I’m recording this epic battle and feel like a NatGeo reporter on assignment (Oh be quiet! A girl can dream can’t she!). I’ve included it here, but parts are out of focus…I’m still very much a beginner so forgive the poor quality.

C2 retreats for a minute and returns to launch a second offensive. Suddenly in the midst of the tangle of legs, there emerges a third crab, (C3 in a guest appearance that lasts for a few seconds!), who has obviously been disturbed by the brawl overhead. He pops out agitated and retreats in a flash, caught in a tangle of snapping pincers. That’s the last I see of him, wise soul! Finally, C1 seems to give up and scurries to the left where he dives immediately into an empty hole and seems content. C2 takes possession of his home and calm is restored.

Everyone's happy! C2 reclaims his own and C1 takes the one to the left!

I hang around for a few minutes to see if anything interesting might start again, but cries of ‘Mama’ distract me. Time to leave my brief foray into the exotic Natural World and return to my rather mundane, routine existence. And yet, not so different are they…food & shelter…in both worlds – necessities to be fought for and guarded with passion. I know we humans think of ourselves as evolved creatures, but sometimes I wonder. We are the only species that wants more than we need, breed more than we should and ruin our own home, the only Planet we have, with a nonchalance that is criminal & disturbing. We have a lot to learn.

p.s. I would love to hear any close encounters of the ‘wild’ kind that you might have had!

Have a happy week People 🙂

A Peacock @ the Top of the World…

This morning we took Lady for a spin. If you’re a regular reader, you’re familiar with Lady.

A couple of months ago, I described our visit to Vagator beach. Here’s a recap for the interested.  I had mentioned then the fact that we would ‘do’ the Chapora Fort in another trip, preferably on a dry and sunny day. Today is the day.

The Fort is perched atop a hill and overlooks the confluence of the Chapora river and the Arabian Sea. A strategic location and one guaranteeing stunning vistas all around 🙂 We arrive at the base of the hill-fort and the first thing we come across, much to our delight is this chap…

Peacock on the Hill!

I try to get as close as I possibly can while trying to be as silent as I possibly can. I’m also trying to whisper to Ishaan so he doesn’t miss the sight. Hubby shushes my racket as the peacock wanders off downhill and disappears into the shrubbery. I’m convinced he’s part of a flock of 8 or 10 peacocks we saw one morning on another hill – Aguada. Hubby thinks I’m a nut, but that’s of no consequence. He’s not the naturalist in this family!

We make our way up the hill with its deceptive gradient that serves only to remind us how out of shape we are. A couple of minutes and we’re panting like thirsty dogs (No really! Not a pretty picture.). Hats off to Hubby here…he’s carrying Ishaan, who in his infinite child-like wisdom has chosen the best way up 😉 We rest ever so often on the way up, taking in the resplendent view of the Sea each time. It’s like a hike to the top of the World, figuratively speaking (And yet the way my body still feels, 3 hours after the climb, the tiny hill may as well have been Mt. Everest!).

View from the Top of the World 🙂

It takes us a good 15 or 20 minutes to get up to the Fort, with its ancient brick wall, dotted with trees and vines.

The Chapora Fort
The Chapora River...the sun was right in my face though!

We look for a way in but don’t find one and abandoning the search give ourselves up to the splendid vista. On our left stretches the Arabian Sea and far below, down the sheer cliff face is the sandy strip of Vagator Beach dotted with coconut palms and ant-people out for an early morning dip 🙂 To our right is the Chapora river, also dotted with houses that hug its banks and the ubiquitous coconut palms. There’s no sound except for the occasional buzzing of a scavenging bee and the gentle whir of dragonfly wings. Butterflies abound, staging a glorious silent symphony. This right here, I think, in this moment, is what Life is all about. Peace, nature in all her beauty and where if you listen carefully, you can hear the whispers of your soul. It’s a moment. An awesome one 🙂

We stay for a while taking it all in and resting our aching calves, catching our breath. On our way down, we spy a couple, in what looks like the middle of a tree! They obviously need privacy, but I’m thinking, who do they expect to run into here at the Top of the World…except for an adventurous couple with their inquisitive toddler? But we mean no harm nor I’m sure does the other couple we see making their way up, as we make our way down, no doubt looking for a sanctum of their own! The Fort now is obviously a hangout for lovers, although the gorgeous views are lost on them 😉

On our way down we also see this fellow…

Kingfisher...I think 😛

When we’re safely at the base, the Peacock has reappeared and left us a memento (I like to think) in the form of this…

Peacock plume

I pick it up for luck (though there are those who believe it’s unlucky!). I have never found a plume before with its source wandering nearby! And then we’re off, on our way home with Ishaan predictably falling asleep. A wonderful morning and a great beginning to what promises to be a busy weekend 🙂

Happy Weekending Folks!!

Journey to the End of the World – Stunning Tiracol!

The 'Ferry' @ Querim

Yesterday, we took off, on the spur of the moment as we are wont to do, for a day-trip to Fort Tiracol. It’s been on my mind for a while. I had visited many years ago with my friend Sushma and the quiet beauty of the setting has stayed with me ever since. I love journeys even short ones, and am always keen to share that love with family and friends. A day-trip is better than no trip at all 🙂

So duly showered and with a bag full of Ishaan essentials (Oh yeah! To forget these would mean certain disaster!), we set off. Thanks to Google and my irritatingly organized hubby, we were well-armed with printouts of the best route to take, complete with driving instructions (Don’t you wonder how we found our way before Google was born? I do!). The route was fairly simple, a straight road for the most part…you’re holding your breath now aren’t you? You’re waiting for the inevitable tale of us lost, driving along meandering roads that go in circles, and take us to every place but where we want to go? Hah! Gotcha! Well, sort of…we got to our destination alright (have the pics to prove it!), just by an unexpected route 🙂 One that we were hoping to avoid and that I am now glad we didn’t!

Will he, Won't he?

Let me explain. Tiracol or Terekhol is a sleepy little village, on the northern tip of Goa along its border with neighboring Maharashtra. It’s where the Tiracol river flows into the Arabian Sea and where the Portuguese, recognizing its strategic location, built a fort, way back in the 16th century. The site is now a designated Heritage site, protected by law. There are two routes to get here – the longer inland route and the shorter route that involves a rather ‘perilous’ or perhaps ‘adventurous’ is a better word, ferry ride across the Tiracol river at another sleepy village – Querim! Well, were veterans of ferry-boat crossings once, most Goans are, even today. With rivers never far away and a typically ‘susegaad’ Government that takes ages to build even the smallest of bridges, they have to be! Getting a two-wheeler in and out of the boat is a piece of cake; a car, now that can get tricky! For one, there are currents and tides to consider, which means the boat is often not perfectly aligned with the ramp; for another, water is not a still surface and no matter how skilled the driver of car and boat claim to be, it’s extremely common to hear the metallic, screech of the silencer as it is dragged against the ramp, getting into and out of the bobbing ferry! Imagine trying to accomplish said process in ‘reverse’ gear and you know it’s as close to a tightrope act as you’re going to get! Still, practice makes perfect, and there was a time when we did it not once but several times a day and tides & currents were no match for hubby’s supreme driving skills 😉 But that was then, you understand…more than a decade ago…and now…so we were keen to avoid the ferry especially during the Monsoons when the waters would be at their swirling and unpredictable best!

Man proposes, God disposes, or in this case Man disposes 😛 Yeah, yeah, you guessed it, we took a wrong turn, well not a wrong turn, (coz there was a huge sign that said Terekhol at the diversion), just not the one Google said we should, and so driving through the narrow, curvy lanes of Pernem, we arrived, many gorgeous birds and one dashing mongoose later, at the ferry crossing of Querim. The drive was wonderful – the rains have made everything lush (I love that word!) and an earthy fragrance abounds. The abundance of green, all shades of it, from the shimmering emerald-green paddy fields to the dark olive-green leaves of age-old banyan trees, is very soothing, so calming as to be almost therapeutic…all’s well with the world you think, while Nature is still full of such wondrous beauty 🙂

We had to wait a good half hour for the ferry, pleasantly spent chatting up with one of the locals, a friendly sort of chap. Now for the moment of truth…but the fates were kind and so were the river Gods (this is India after all, why one deity when there are a thousand available ;-))! It was a sunny day and although the ferry at first docked at an alarming slant to the ramp, the driver and his numerous guides (all shouting it seemed contradictory instructions!) managed to get the boat fairly aligned, so that getting in was relatively easy on our nerves and the car 😉 This was Ishaan’s first ferry ride, and he seemed to enjoy it, although rather confused with all the going ons 🙂 Ten minutes later and the whole process was repeated again as hubby reversed the car up the ramp on the other side and we proceeded to drive to the Fort, just 2 km away.

Stunning Vista!

The Fort is now a Heritage hotel and is beautifully preserved. Its location offers stunning vistas, situated as it, at the point where the river meets the Sea. There are sheer drops on every side and a very ‘end of the world’ feel to it 🙂 A gorgeous spot! The Hotel is simply and minimally done, with brass lamps and shields and dark wood. There is no pool (because of its Heritage status) and there are only 7 rooms, all without air-conditioning (but for once I’m not complaining, ‘coz it’s cool and breezy) and named after the days of the week! The entrance to the fort is through the typically fort-style, large wooden doors with embedded cast-iron studs, a few steps later, and you are in the courtyard, ‘the belly of the beast’, where at one end stands a chapel in honor of St. Anthony and at the other, a statue of Jesus on a pedestal, rising into the sky with arms outstretched as if blessing the fort and its inhabitants. The chapel seems old, but the statue I think is a more recent addition donated by some grateful parishioner, for wishes granted perhaps. Upstairs, at the end of a rather steep staircase, on the ramparts, is the lounge-bar, simple and tastefully done, with ochre walls comfy chairs and the mandatory panoramic views!

The Statue of Jesus in the courtyard

We were the only ones there, what with it being off-season and a weekday, and so we felt rather like Kings of the Castle 🙂 We settled down in the bar and let Ishaan run around, free his legs after the long drive and quenched our thirst with chilled beers while the helpful bartender (another local chap) served up snacks and local tidbits. After taking pictures and a customary game of cricket on the tiny lawn up front, a must for Ishaan, wherever we go :), it was off to lunch at a little home-owned eatery down the road, recommended by another local on the ferry (very helpful, the locals :)), called the Hygienic restaurant 😉 True to its name, it’s a very basic, but surprisingly clean eatery (not a single fly or bug did I see, in this open-air setting!), owned by a yet another friendly local, a Mr. Francis Rodrigues, who proceeded to discuss fish and history, in that order, with professional ease and great relish 🙂 He recommended the fresh catch of the day and that settled told us about other things to see in the area, a famous local temple here, a beach there. While the fish was cooking, Ishaan chased Mr. Rodrigues’s three pet pigs, calling them ‘rabbits’ and scaring the fat beasts out of their wits!!! It was hilarious to see them so terrified of him, desperate to get away 🙂 Again, I must say, very clean pigs, Mr. Rodrigues, I am very impressed indeed 🙂

Lunch done and armed with fresh directions from Mr. Rodrigues as to the inland route home (we didn’t want to push our luck with the ferry ;-)), we set off once more. An hour and a half later, after a short diversion to Shiroda beach (I’ve seen better), we were back home, thanks to excellent directions from our new friend! And so, a thoroughly enjoyable day all around. It rejuvenated my spirits and left me yearning for more. I wish we could have stayed until sunset…next time!

Next stop – The Collem Wildlife Sanctuary where I want to show my boy, his favorite animals – Elephants!!

Meanwhile – here’s to Tiracol, and a fabulous visit back in time 🙂