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A Happy Poetess From a Village of Wayanad (Kerala): Day 3, Episode 3

a purple lily growing in a pond in wayanad kerala

Please note: This is the third episode in the series. Read the First here: Looking for a Home in a Wayanad Village (Kerala): Day 1, Episode 1 and the Second here: Life in a Tea, Coffee, and Betel Nut Village in Wayanad (Kerala): Day 2, Episode 2

When You Are Traveling, Don’t Expect. Be Open.

I woke up at seven and put water on the stove for my bath. Outside on the porch, I did my version of surya namaskars in front of the yellow sun that had replaced the golden moon. After washing myself, I put tea on the stove. By the time my partner Sagar woke up, tea was boiling. No breakfast for we had had a heavy dinner the previous night. I worked for two hours and when AB, our host, didn’t show up like the previous morning, Sagar called him. 

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Life in a Tea, Coffee, and Betel Nut Village in Wayanad (Kerala): Day 2, Episode 2

a simple village home in the mountains of wayanad

Please note: This is the second episode in the series. If you haven’t read the first, get it here: Finding a Home in a Village in Wayanad (Kerala): Day 1, Episode 1 A Regular Day of Two Travelers in a Tea, Coffee, and Betel Nut Village in Wayanad Day 2 We slept well and woke …

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Slow Travels in Mysore

butter benne dosa mysore old hotel a plate of dosa with coconut chutney

Travelogue of Mysore—A Week in and Around the Historical City

After checking out of a tiny room in a peculiar highway hotel outside Mysore, my partner Sagar and I both took deep breaths.

“I’m so relaxed after getting out of that place. We shouldn’t have stayed there for three nights,” I said.

He replied, “Yeah, like a weight is lifted off my head.”

Our relief could be accounted to the sleepy staff who upon seeing us return from lunch and standing outside the hotel door they had locked exclaimed, “You’re not going sightseeing?” Sagar and I waited on two tiny iron chairs in the airless lobby while the housekeeping woman haphazardly cleaned our room, leaving the garbage as is, the bed unmade, and damp towels lying in a coil. Then I squeezed onto the tiny desk in the corner, and Sagar managed to work from the bed.

As we drove to a highly-praised dosa place in Mysore downtown, watching the city go by us, the hotel room was already a thing of the past. We discussed our options. Either we could look for a good hotel in the city centre near the historical places—the city being the the capital of the Kingdom of Mysore from 1399 to 1947 or drive further on. Our eyes were on Kerala. I had traveled to Mysore with my parents thirteen years ago and seen its major attractions: the Mysore Palace, the city zoo, gardens et cetera. My partner also didn’t care much about exploring every nook and corner of Mysore. We had been to Rangnathittu Bird Sanctuary twice on two different times and a day earlier strolled around an unmarked dam and lake, spotting hundreds of migratory birds. 

“Let’s see how we feel after breakfast,” we said to each other. 

masala dosa in mysore on a table two masala dosas

The masala dosa was a bit limp, not like the super crispy Karnataka dosa I was expecting. The place was, sadly, overhyped. 

After tea, on the dusty road, under a tree, we sat talking, planning our day. My partner had taken the day off, given how impromptu we were being.

“Do you want to drive to Bandipur or Nagarhole today?” He asked, as we had been asking each other since morning. 

“No. I’m so tired I don’t think I can drive today. It’s a long drive. And I don’t think even you’re up for driving for long hours.” I rubbed my eyes which had suddenly become heavy, as if wanting to close. 

“No I’m not.” He replied, with a tired look in his eyes.

“Let’s look for a hotel and stay.” After the dosa, my body had slowed down, screaming for rest and sleep. Imagining myself lying down on a bed was bringing immense relief.

We both started browsing Google Maps for accommodations in Mysore. He was looking at booking websites. 

Finding guest homes and family stays in India for three years, we are both wary of accommodations. Some don’t clean, many don’t provide drinking water, others are noisy or intruding, and so on. Somewhere staff don’t care, other places don’t have parking, and sometimes the toilet doesn’t flush. I can filter out well-reviewed properties just by a few red flags that I know would be too glaring in physical reality. 

I found Mannar, a hotel with a 4-star rating after hundreds of reviews. None of its reviews said dirty, uncaring staff, noise et cetera. One or two poor reviews when the experience might have been spoiled due to a one-off reason didn’t worry me. Parking was mentioned. 

We didn’t call. Fifteen minutes later, we squeezed into a narrow, busy street and parked outside the hotel across from a dung-smeared cow munching grass from a round stone trough. 

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Finding a Home in a Village in Wayanad (Kerala): Day 1, Episode 1

a brick-tiled roof home in wayanad village with betel nuts plants and coffee drying (1)

Sitting on this makeshift work desk (that’s actually a couch) on the ground floor of a home in Chitragiri village in Wayanad is a blessing. Maybe the Christian family who owns the place might say that Christ has bestowed this blessing upon us. A big white church stands on the opposite side of the road. It is called Saint George Church Chitragiri, if I am not wrong. Its large but narrow white facade bolts upright while the rest of the church sprawls behind. A tea plantation lies next door to the church. 

a couch with laptop and pillows and covers, my makeshift work desk in a guesthouse in Wayanad village kerala
my makeshift work desk, Wayanad village, Kerala

In our house, this house, or I must say, this building, the owner’s family stays upstairs. I guess they have more guest rooms on the second floor. Behind our house, which has two rooms, a hall, a kitchen, two bathrooms, more common area, is the dormitory which is unoccupied at the moment. The coffee and betel nut estate of the family is behind the building. Our porch leads onto the cement driveway which fronts the green estate. 

Here downstairs we are, our doors open to the lushness of this coffee district.

We have spent three nights in this home. Today is our fourth day. 

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the Pleasing Potpourri that Pondicherry is – in Photos

an old pondicherry woman selling greens on pondicherry streets tiny

What is Pondicherry and What is it not

I fell in love with the energy of Pondicherry — the heartbeat of it — even before I could notice what this coastal city offered. 

The union territory of Pondicherry (renamed to Puducherry) might be popular for the leftovers from French colonialism: ubiquitous bakeries, wine bars and restaurants, narrow lanes studded with monochrome baroque buildings, and the French-speaking Tamils. Or for being the crucial port it became as early on as in the 3rd century of the iron age people. The ancient ceramic burial urns, wine jars, fish garum amphoras, and the Palaeolithic axe discovered around Pondicherry (Tamil Nadu) and now kept in the city’s museum do impress upon one the history of the town that seemed to have existed since time is known. 

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Searched For Big Adventures, Satisfied With a Little Lakeside Picnic – In Karnataka’s Sharavathi Valley

my man and a picnic in sharavathi valley

We Wanted to Visit Sharavathi Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, But Didn’t Know We Were In It; We Looked For a Big Adventure, But We Were On It Already

That day had started late. We arrived at a homestay near Jog Falls in Sharavathi Valley two days ago. The occasion was of the New Year. 

Like always, I had zoomed in and out of Google Maps and found a vast green blotch dotted with blue pools that I hadn’t explored yet. It was Sharavathi Valley. And once again, I overruled my partner who wanted to visit an easy place, such as Gokarna or Hampi. Easy not because of the distance from Bangalore. But he preferred those well-known destinations because the internet didn’t have much information about Sharavathi Valley.

Not that we ever knew more about a place we wanted to visit than how far away it was and where we would put up for the first night. Sometimes, we even booked that first night while on the way or checked out a couple of hotels or home stays upon arrival. But having to navigate a large forested valley without knowing the local language, any information, and the possibility of losing phone signals could intimidate anyone. Though, to me, the journey sounded adventurous, and so my partner gave in, too.

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The Big Lessons a Little Family in Pondicherry Taught Me

a simple pondicherry home

On Being a Family

When my partner and I drove to Pondicherry city to stay for a few months, first, we booked a small Airbnb for three days. Though my experience with Airbnb has been poor, we reserved the one-room living and bedroom as no other accommodation on the various booking websites looked good or well-priced. The well-reviewed family guesthouse didn’t have even one poor feedback. Everyone spoke highly of the place and the host family. (You can read more on finding guesthouses in India in the link.)

The house was in the congested neighborhood of Tsunami Quarters—a housing colony made for fishermen whose homes were too near the coast. Tsunami Quarters was occupied after cyclone Thane hit the state of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry on the east coast of India in 2011.  

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A Road Trip From Bangalore to Coorg [Quintessential Karnataka]

madikeri+coorg+karnataka+south+india.jpeg

Table of Content

  1. What brings us travelers to Coorg, a district nestled in the western ghats of South Karnataka?
  2. Bangalore to Coorg by Road
  3. Our Homestay in Coorg and Coorgy Culture
  4. Nature of Coorg and Coffee Estates
  5. Eating and Going Around in Coorg and Madikeri Town
  6. What is the best time to visit Coorg?
  7. How much time do you need for a Bangalore to Coorg trip?
  8. What is the difference between Coorg and Madikeri?
  9. How far is Coorg from Bangalore?
  10. How to reach Coorg from Bangalore?
  11. Where to stay in Madikeri, Coorg?
  12. What are some of the best things to do in Coorg?
  13. How is the food in Coorg?
  14. Books on Coorg

From Bangalore to Coorg by Car – Rendezvous Through Wild Karnataka

I won’t tell you that Coorg is the Scotland of India, as every other Bangalore to Coorg travel guide must have already said this to you. I have not been to Scotland and don’t know its landscape. But I can say that Coorg, also known as Kodagu, is straight out of that movie in which fat cows graze on a grassy carpet while spinach-green hills pose in the background.

I’m not sure if I can call Coorg a quaint town. Everybody traveling in Karnataka go on a road trip from Bangalore to Coorg, at least once. I’ve been to Coorg so many times I now have a list of 15 stunning and secluded coffee estates, home stays, and hotels in Coorg.

A humble request: We overcrowd Venice, Paris, Coorg, Florence, Bangkok as if there is nowhere else to go. Meanwhile, the ecologies of these places suffer due to overcrowding and lack of care, obvious when tourists throng the destination. Let’s try to distribute ourselves through the lesser visited places which all hold, if not more, the similar richness of people, food, landscape, and history.

May I suggest Stuart hill in Coorg instead of Madikeri town, Mandi district instead of Manali, Kalga instead of Kasol, and Chile instead of London and Paris? But let us promise to respect these new places and not turn them into just hangouts to chill. Let’s chill in our backyards. But when we visit, let’s visit to see, know, and understand something unknown to us.

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