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!"


Anonymous said...

The Tiger Ranch website can really deceive someone then - seems to project the perfect ambience for that perfect weekend getaway in the wilderness. But obviously, from your description, it is not true. Thanks for the warning.

Question: Does dabbling in bird watching also extend to birds of the other kind - the ones that don't fly but are equally attractive?

At the cost of sounding rather trite, one would say curiosity, my dear fella, kills the cat! So, you might just want to watch it :).

Sheetal said...

Most of all, I envy you the mongooses (we keep to our preferred plurals, as you see) and the giant squirrel. You're a positive wildlife attracter, Lud; must keep that in mind.

Shweta said...

Oh Good, merci very much This is thoroughly satisfactory account; coupled with the pictures one can almost imagine oneself there. Though being forewarned one shall take care to delete the reshameonyouiah soundtrack from onze armchair travel video.

Ludwig said...

[anonymous] Treat 'Tiger Ranch' in the manner of an opening batsman in a test match, facing an away moving delivery outside the off stump. Well left.

Dabbling extends to many things. Even ostriches, emus, and kakapos.

We are watching it closely.

[sheetal] It must be the natural odour!

[shweta] Reshamonyouiah has its time and place. The middle of Bandipur on a weekend is neither.

Shweta said...

I agree completely, dear man, I really do. I swear I had nothing to do with him nemesifying you out there at that beauteous water hole. I think it has to be quite his own idea. I might have had him blasted into your ear on Zoopark day but thats the sum of my sins!

Ph said...

And while we settle for Key Largo becoming a thing we might have dreamt, you go and have another vacation. Have you no consideration man!

Ludwig said...

[shweta] Recent scientific studies have revealed that Reshammaiah is actually quite OK, even to be recommended for moderate durations during road trips. However, it is not good for Bandipur waterholes and overnight bus rides. There's a thing about this in last month's 'Lancet'.

[ph] "Key Largo, Montego..." Mea culpa, ph. But what to do, one finds that one needs to do these things, otherwise one is stuck mostly in the world of Java and J2EE.

Anonymous said...

This is to all of you who are planning for a trip to Bandipur (National Forest reserve), and looking for a stay in a close by resort. Please be ware of a place called “TIGER RANCH”. This is my sincere advice to all those who book there cottage and room through internet.

Tiger ranch is cheating people through its website. The website is filled with contents which is deceiving many people. The photos in the website makes you feel very pleased and happy but these decorated rooms in the picture are purely fictional and illusory. The website also speaks of corporate offers and things like that to pull the attention of the corporate crowd. The corporate offer is also a big bogus and this is how it is. Any person who mails to tiger ranch asking about the offer will be replied back with the discount rates. But when confronted, the owner refuses to give the offer saying the discount rates were offered in his absence and blames the staff for such mistakes. With other resorts running full you will have no other options but to surrender to your fate.

The package also offers a trekking on paying some extra amount. We have learnt that the trekking in the forest is illegal and is not offered by any resorts. Two of the staff members will be sent with us as a guide, but these staff members will go missing if they see any forest guard in their vicinity. As these forest guards will abuse any one who enters the forest without permission.

There are few blogs written on Tiger ranch which I think is brain child of the owner, the blogs along with the website is acting as a powerful tool to trap many of the visitors.

This place is 3 km inside the forest and condition of the roads is not so good. If you are traveling on a small car and if it is rainy day, It is very difficult or impossible to reach Tiger Ranch.

No spot booking, I am sure no body will after looking at the place. The rooms are mostly made of recycled materials with Bamboo sticks strengthening the walls and the coconut leaves covering the roof. If you are getting a picture of a broken hut in a slum you have made right guess. The rooms have a luxury of attached bathrooms. With doors broken one should not contemplate about privacy and security. The bathrooms have facilities like the leaking tap, broken sink and unclean commode. Hot water will not available at any point of time. If the generator is in good shape and if there is enough diesel, electricity will be available for some hours late in the evening otherwise you will have to do away with lanterns. This is Tiger Ranch for you.
The worst experience was the treatment given at the resort and the kind of food given there .The rates are very high considering the food and service you get .The owner is shrewd and abuses very badly if you ask for any clarification on the bill amount.

Overall this place can be rated as a very poor place for accommodation especially for families. If you are looking to spend some peaceful time with your friends and beloveds this is definitely not the place. Even if you have to choose this place, please make it as a last option.

varali said...

Bandipur and food = chechi. They've shut down her shack now (used to be diagonally opposite the Forest dept. rooms) and no one knows where she has gone.

Ah, those vadas. And blissfully sweet chaya. Chechi was an institution. Did you happen to sample her stuff?

Ludwig said...

[varali] Have no clue re: chechi. Now I think there's the usual thingumabob selling Kurkures and 50-50s. Vadas were also not so much in evidence.

O tempora, o mores.