Saturday, May 20, 2006

On "Merit"

Hiatus. Long hiatus. We were in Bombay. In the very same place where we were a year back. Horrible things happened then. This time, very cleverly, we went before the rains set in. [Aside: Go and read There's No Place Like Home. Its about Bombay, and rains, and home. And very nice.]

Anyway, we will now relate a short tale. Thanks to that man Keynes and his homosexual intrigues for introducing us to this parable.

One sunny Spring mid-morning, Lord Pelf-Lucre returned home, after a few well-spent hours scaring poopless some hitherto carefree snipe that had been lurking in the fens adjoining one of the lakes in his private 10,000 acre estate. It was starting to get rather warm, and Pelf-Lucre was somewhat enervated after all the blundering through the reeds. He was fat, and tired, and was rather looking forward to his e. and b., the financial papers, and a snooze in his favourite chair in his favourite spot overlooking the rose garden and the yew alley.

As the hunting party drew up to the massive doors of Hoard Hall, Pelf-L. espied a supine figure on his impossibly green front lawn. Upon huffing and puffing a little nearer, he was able to see that a person of some sort, indeed, lay asleep on the verdure.

"Hoi!!", shouted the peer.

The sleeper awoke, slowly, and dragged himself to his feet. The vagabond (for such he was) squinted in the morning glare. His clothes were tattered, his body reeked, and what seemed to be the sum total of his worldly possesions were tied in a bundle, at the end of his staff.

"What do you think you're doing, eh?", said P-L.

"Jes' ketchin' some sleep guv'nor."

"And who gave you permission to plonk yourself on my property, you bounder?!!"

"Why no one guv'nor! Its jes' that me legs were sore on account of tramping around Shropshire..."

"Well, this is my house, and you can't trespass. So be off, or I'll set the footmen on you."

"An' 'ow did ye' come to own yon 'ouse, guv'nor?"

"You impudent rascal!! Do you have any idea who I am? I'm Lord Pelf-Lucre, and Hoard Hall has been in my family for 30 generations!"

"So i' was yer' fa'ther then tha' gave ye' yon castle?"

"Yes! Yes!! A thousand times yes!"

"And oo' did 'e get the 'ouse frae?"

"His father, you jackass!"

"And oo' did 'e get the 'ouse frae?"

"His father, you [gaali goes here]"

This went on for a bit. After about 5 minutes, they had worked their way backwards through Pelf-Lucre's geneology. Presently, they were talking about the first Lord Pelf-Lucre.

"And oo' did the first Lord Pelf-Lucre get the house 'frae?"

"I've sent for the constabulary, but since we have a little time, and you insist on keeping up with these asinine questions, I'll have you know that the first Lord Pelf-Lucre was a knight of the realm under William the Conqueror. He fought tooth and nail and spilled his blood and wrested Hoard Hall and this estate from some nameless barbarian who probably deserved everything he got!", panted Pelf-Lucre, and wiped his sweaty brow with a silk kerchief.

The tramp unhitched the bundle from the end of his staff (which was rather stout and business like), dropped the bundle on the ground, and stretched to his full height.

"Well, then. Let's fight."

Meanwhile, in other news, the reservation ruckus continues.

[This Just In (May 22, 2010!): Indisch has drawn it!]

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Dabbles, Sometimes Dives

"Dabbles. Sometimes dives." This pithy phrase is used to describe the feeding habits of many a water bird by such worthies as Messrs. Grimmett, Inskipp & Inskipp. Strangely enough, the very same phrase could be used to describe Ludwig's approach to many, many interests in life. A lot of dabbling, and nearly not enough diving. Most recently, we have begun to dabble in birdwatching. No, we will not indulge in birdwatching PJs.

With the grim intention of dabbling in our latest interest, we made a quick trip to Bandipur National Park. The following is the detailed procedure for getting to Bandipur from Begumpet:
  1. Have lunch. Acquire tennis elbow. This is vitally important.
  2. Arrange a powercut, so that the UPS at work conks off at 2:00 ish. This means you can slime out of work at 5:00. Contrive to get dropped off at Begumpet station.
  3. Miss the MMTS train to Kacheguda by a whisker. Instead, haul posterior in auto across the city.
  4. Catch the Kacheguda-Bangalore City Express. Have some tea and tiffin. Buy dinner. This is also vitally important. The food on this train is insipid. There are no decent eating options, as you cross the state. You will be foisted by the Rs. 30 railway biryani, circa 3500 B.C.
  5. Once in Bangalore, eat a paratha. One for the road.
  6. Breakfast proper is to be had at Kamat Lokaruchi on the Mysore highway. Idlis, dosai, puri, vada, coffee. [The trick to a perfect trip is to simply plan for the food. Everything else will fall into place miraculously as long as you plan the meals right.]
  7. En route, coconut water, and tender coconut. Mmm.
  8. Time arrival at Tiger Ranch so that lunch is just being served.
Tiger Ranch is a strange 'resort'. Located almost within the national park, right next to a water hole, a short walk from a fantastic dam, in the middle of more or less lush jungle vagera, vagera. You would think that with such a place to plonk itself in, nothing could go wrong. We did think so. We were wrong. For some completely pigeon-brained reason, the management insists on playing 'music' all day (11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.) via a solidly built speaker system. 'Music' includes Pink Floyd, Himesh Reshammiya (Reshammaiyya or whatever the bugger's name is), and other dingchak varieties. Major problem. Most aggravating to run away from city noise to walk into this pseudo dance club in the middle of what should've been a quiet and peaceful jungle.

This 'ambience' also serves to attract several groups of young 'men' to the 'resort'. They apparently arrive in droves, drink, eat, drink, sit around the 'camp' fire, drink, dance, drink, eat, drink, hoot, drink and pass the rest of the night exchanging 'pleasantries' at the tops of their voices from one end of the 'resort' to the other. Definitely give Tiger Ranch 'resort' a miss...

Everything else, was fantastic. We drove up and down the Bandipur-Masinagudi road, saw elephants, gaur, boar, monkeys, deer (in the zillions) and so on. The full 'photo essay' is here. Perhaps the biggest paisa vasool of the trip was catching sight of a trio of striped stripe-necked mongeese, slurping at a pool of water; and a Malabar giant squirrel fighting the Monday morning blues on a treetop. No, we did not see any tigers, leopards, bears or lions.

But it was the birds that were perhaps most gratifying. And Ludwig really loves the hoopoe. What a flighty, unlikely little thingummy! A questionable name in English (PJ: Hoo? Edgar Allan?), and in Latin (upupa epops! upupa epops it seems!!). We would gladly trade all the pigeons of Begumpet for one of these delights in our neighbourhood ficus religiosa or azadirachta indica. We also saw parakeets (plum headed), pigeons (yellow footed), bee eaters (green), nuthatches (chestnut bellied), ibises (black headed, and black), stork (painted), eagle (serpent), jungle fowl (grey), cocks (pea) and so on... We thumbed our trusty Inskipp (1) and derived much joy and Maxwell's equations.

During this entire process, we did not once forget about food. Unbelievable, but true. We carefully planned all meals, that's all there is to it, really. One lunch and one breakfast were devoured at the Jungle Lodges' restaurant Pugmarks, an optimally planned pitstop at Kamat's on the return trip was made, and we got home just in time for sunset, filter coffee and Sunday papers.

1. "'...trusty Inskipp...', said Ludw., who'd only started birding the day before yesterday" Reminds us of a small rhyme from The Undertakers

In August was the Jackal born;
The Rains fell in September;
"Now such a fearful flood as this,"
Says he, "I can't remember!"