Monday, January 16, 2006

Pongal O' Pongal

Exhausted. Spent weekend running in circles around the harvest, chanting "pongalo pongal". Phew.


A hurriedly hatched trip to Belur, Halebid, and Malnad resulted this weekend. The surreal temples at Belur and Halebid were built during the reign of the Hoysala dynasty, in the early centuries of the second millenium A.D. During this time, they developed a style of art and architecture that was radically different. Some of the sculptures are stupendously intricate. That stone can be hewed and shaped into such 'relaxed complexity' is hard to believe.

The Narasimha (Halebid), for example, is lovingly embellished with such details as the intestines of poor Hiranyakashipu emerging from the slash in his belly, distinct punctures where N.'s talons hold H.'s legs and so on. These guys would've found some cool jobs in Hollywood. Not all of it is blood and gore, and it is evident that non-trivial amounts of thought and imagination seem to have gone into every figurine. After the temples, we drove out through Chickmangalur (via Joldal - again a Kenneth Anderson connection!) to the hills of Malnad. The evening, night and much of the next day were spent at Wood-Way Home Stay.

The bungalow itself was built by a European coffee planter on a hill slope. A large, cool, womb-ish, house. The vestiges of the coffee bean processing days are about the place - places for drying the beans, removing the pulp and so on. Also lawns, trees, swinging chairs etc. A ramble through the estate, learning the fascinating business of coffee, was followed by sitting on hill top and watching the sun go down over the Baba Budan Hills. At night beer, chicken, baked potatos, peanuts, campfire, moonlight, conversation. Dinner followed. Unbelievable. Vegetable biryani, chicken biryani, two kinds of veg curries, dal, a chicken curry, salad, fried bread with a third type of curry, rice, thayir, caramel custard. Unbelieveable. Santosh, who is the major domo type person at Wood-Way, is God. Don't tell anyone.

Then demented movie. Later, in the quiet of the night, the grounds were bathed in moonlight, a cool breeze blew over the valley, and the Trout Quintet playing softly. All cliches, but what to do? Next morning, we drove up to 'elephant head' hill. From this high place, you can see the distant hills of Kudremukh and the Bhadra Sanctuary, and catch sight of the resident serpent crested eagle, trying to find a helpful thermal. Pongal lunch followed, coffee (some of the best coffee ever) bags were packed, and then we rejoined the real world.

In other (shattering news), the Pats are out of the reckoning for another Superbowl title. Perhaps not a dynasty, after all? What a bummer of a year for the Red Sox and the Pats...Yuck.

Finally, EPW carries an interesting critique of the (draft?) National Rehabilitation Policy (for people displaced by projects such as dams, mines, steel plants etc.)
However, the clause that is the real give-away, that it is not even the intention of the policy to ensure that oustees will actually be given agricultural land to make their living, states that even this allotment of agricultural land or culturable waste is “subject to the availability of government land in the district”. Everybody, not least the government, is aware of the ground reality and non-availability of government land suitable for agriculture. Thus, the application of such a condition is intended to defeat the prospect of land-based rehabilitation from the outset. Why, for example, is there no provision for the purchase of irrigated agricultural land by the state government to compensate the oustees? Why is there no explicit provision for the acquisition of private agricultural lands in the irrigation command of the projects for the rehabilitation of the oustees, if the lands are being acquired for irrigation projects – small, medium or large? Especially, when this is a widely accepted principle for most State Displacement Acts, that those who benefit must share their gains with those who are losing their resources?


Emma said...

It has been really long since I have left a comment here. This post inspires me to do so - just to let you know this is incredibly well-written. I am sure one interested even a weebit in travel writing can vouch for this. I am glad you didn't make it a "travelled-from-pointA-to-pointB" kind of a narrative. With your insights seeping in all the time, it made for a very interesting reading.

By the way, the photographs are awesome.

lud. said...

[emma] Danke you, danke you. As one of my 2 sentences in German says, when die ganze welt steht gegen Ludwig, such encouragement is wilkommen.

Re: photos, credit is due mostly to camera, and scenery, as usual.

that man keynes and his homosexual intrigues said...


what exactly do you mean?


Yours, as a recurring decimal.

Krishna Kumar said...

Ludwig seems to be moving from teutonic to tectonics with effortless ease. You any relative to that fellow Pico Aiyer? You have a penchant for travelogues, I say.