Merry Christmas…

Merry Christmas…

It’s already end of  December. Sorry for the lack of posts in 2016. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not going to force myself to write them and have something not worth reading. I have started thinking what is that I really wanted to do.

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In this chilly, misty moon lit night, sitting in my balcony, from a distance I can hear the divine melodies sung by young Carol groups. I can see Christmas stars shining brightly from houses around. Christmas tree in my balcony decorated with gifts reminds me to be like a Christmas Tree – A Christmas Tree, which is evergreen, so refreshing, full of gifts, surprises and so joyful –  A Christmas Tree that elevates the value of life, as in winter what is evergreen becomes a sign of undying life. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas.

Leaders are not born..

(Compiled by Meenakshi Sunil, Student Green Hills Public School, Sultan Battery, Wayanad, Kerala.)

“Leaders are not born but are made by their experiences in life”. To inculcate the leadership qualities in students and to give them a feel of functioning of the administrative body, a school cabinet was formed at The Green Hills Public School and the investiture ceremony was held in July 2016 at the school premises.

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The excitement of the new members was clear as they marched rhythmically to the beats of the school band with their heads held high in pride and confidence, ready to shoulder the responsibilities as student leaders. The office bearers of the four houses were invested ceremoniously with the Chief Guest Honorable District Collector of Wayanad, Sri. Keshavendra Kumar pinning badges and administering Oath of office to the newly appointed members of the Student Council. He congratulated the newly appointed office bearers and reminded them to diligently shoulder responsibilities that lay ahead with dedication and devotion.

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Honorable Chairman Sri. V.G. Surendranath and respected principal of Green Hills Public School, Sri. K.V. George presided over the function. Mr. Baiju Paul P.T.A. President and Mr. A.T. Alexander, Headmastereadm was also present on the occasion. After swearing in ceremony there was an interesting interactive session between students and the chief guest.

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Kumari Pavluri Sushhma Seshu of class 12th was selected as the Head Girl and Master Vysakh G. Nair of class 12th was selected as the Head boy.

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The function which was well organized and disciplined reflected the efforts put in by our dear teachers especially Vipin Sir, Priya madam and Sini miss. Though their patience was tested on many occasion during the rehearsals, at the end it paid making the ceremony memorable.

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Also special thanks to our dear photographer Aasish Manoli for providing these photos.

The Deity of “Death”

Death as we all know is inevitable and unfortunate and will surely touch us at one point or another. But death is unfair and cruel when it is sudden because it is unforeseeable and tears family apart since there is no time to say goodbye. For the departed souls dear one’s life is changed for ever.

In Hinduism Yama is the deity of death. He is depicted as dark in colour with red clothes (somewhere black cloths), and seated on a he-buffalo. He holds a noose of rope in one hand to snatch the soul from the body.

Recently an accidental death of a young man who was still building his life left me contemplating the strange way the deity of death operate. My contemplation resulted in the following verses.

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Up in the hills

On a sunny midday,

The deity of death

Snatched another soul.

Hey deity of death

Moving on that shiny black bull,

Spinning your tight noosed rope

Searching for the next one in your roll.

I have something to tell you

Listen with an open heart,

At times you are so cruel

It’s time for you to ponder.

I feel you work at your will

Snatching away precious souls.

You say it’s your duty

But alas!  At times you are so heartless.

You prey on young lively souls

Who live with lots of hopes and goals?

You betray their kith and kin, and leave them in lurch

With your impromptu act.

Why you prey on those noble souls

When there are a lot waiting for you around,

You say it’s your way

But please stop this I pray.

There I saw an ailing old man

Praying for you, to snatch him fast,

And I saw people praying for you

To snatch away a cruel wicked man.

But you rode fast past them

Looking for another noble soul,

Hey deity of death

You are so unfair.

Once I saw your face

Masqueraded behind the black veil,

Tears rolling down your cheeks

When you snatched another noble soul.

I realized you were helpless

You deity of death,

For that’s the way

This whole creation is designed.

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Through the elephant trails..

(Hala..Happy New Year. This is the my first post in 2016. Previous year i couldn’t devout much time to blogging due to my hectic schedules in both personal and professional life. I couldn’t make long trips and was forced to satiate my urge to wander and explore by making short trips in and around my native place Wayanad. So let me hit the blogosphere this year with my short  adventure through elephant trails in a remote area of Wayanad.)

On a chilly Saturday morning i set off my unplanned adventure through unfamiliar forest trails in search of my favourite one’s – Wild Elephants. I was well aware of the fact that it was like searching for danger. As I moved through the narrow, winding forest path my ears strained for the trumpet of a charging elephant from the thick bushes.

 

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Elephant Trails

Though travelling through unfamiliar elephant trails is risky it was an experience to cherish. Sight of fresh dungs, bamboo torn apart,  and the pungent odour of elephants; i expected them at every curve and corner of the narrow potholed road, but this time they evaded me.

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Not the right place to pose for a snap

On the way we stopped and hurriedly clicked some quick snaps. As i posed leaning to a huge tree, i felt something crumbling from the bamboo bushed behind. We sprang towards the auto and moved away.

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Tribal Settlement

Finally i reached an amazingly beautiful tribal settlement amidst thick woods. It is an area of intense human-wild animal conflict.

 

 

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Lovely place to be

Tuskers rampaging paddy fields, chasing school children and ambushing passing vehicles is a daily affair here said the tribe we met here. Sometimes they turn to killers too.

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Mathai my auto driver chatting with the tribe man we met.

There goes the only bus that connects the village with the outside world.

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This bus connects the village with the outside world

Inhaled some fresh air, enjoyed the silence, cool breeze and serenity of the place and clicked some quick snaps ensuring the wild ones were not around :).

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Paddy fields amidst thick woods

My auto driver and adventure trips companion waves at me and shouts..It’s time to go back before THEY come..That was a short trip but will be back again for a full day adventure.

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Lovely place with fields in the background

 

 

 

 

 

Out in nature..On a misty morning

It’s a great time to get out in nature on a misty morning. It becomes even greater if this beauty is captured by your lens. So I decided out to venture out close to the woods on a Sunday morning with my daughter, Meenakshi.

First rays of the sun illuminating the horizon

First rays of the sun illuminating the horizon

Just 10 minutes drive from our house and we sighted the first rays of the sun illuminating the horizon filled with mist. We marveled at this sight for a few minutes clicked it and then moved on.

We drove the road running adjacent to the wildlife sanctuary. The roads were empty, visibility was poor due to fog and an impending danger of an elephant stepping into our path drove us a bit of nervous.

Borderline

Borderline

We drove up till the bridge that separates Kerala and Karnataka the two southern states of India. For some reason I didn’t feel like crossing the bridge and enter Karnataka. I always felt comfortable exploring woods in this side of the bridge.

Mesmerizing view

Mesmerizing view

Now the sun is up and the sight of sunrays through the tree trunk passing through the forest was mesmerizing. The scene was perfect backdrop for herds of elephants but we were not lucky enough to catch them basking in the sun; still elusive.

Driving back

Driving back

Now we started driving back and stopped at the little tea/grocery shop overlooking the Ponkuzhi temple. It is owned by Sathyan and this is our favourite hangout during such drives. Sathyan has been living in this area since a long time, braving the frequent ambushes of wild elephant herds, predator attacks and forest fires. We usually sit here for hours listening to his experiences with elephants and leopards.

Sathyan's Place-Exterior view

Sathyan’s Place-Exterior view

Sathyan nodded approvingly with a smile and was busy making tea and coffee for the early morning customers. Tribes living in this part of the forest depends on Sathyan for their daily grocery needs. The pictures that decorates the tea stall are created by Sathyan’s son who is a great painter who have won rewards and recognition in school and college competitions. He studies in Mysore University. He was immersed in his work and didn’t notice me clicking him.

Sathyan busy preparing tea/coffee

Sathyan busy preparing tea/coffee

Sathyan steaming coffee now energized us and we decided to loiter around a bit. Sathyan told us that a herd of elephants had just crossed the road and hence he asked us to be a bit cautious when walking around.

Perfect Coffee..last sip

Perfect Coffee..last sip

NH212 bifurcates the Ponkuzhi temple to a main shrine and a sub-shrine close to tribal hamlets.

Ponkuzhi temple-Main Shrine

Ponkuzhi temple-Main Shrine

We usually walk along the road adjacent to the sub-shrine. But two elderly tribal’s persuaded us back from this since there was chance of elephants in the road, and the visibility was almost zero due to fog.

Fog covered path-dangerous!

Fog covered path-dangerous!

So we clicked some more snaps of the sub-shrine, the weed covered pond, strolled through the meadow enjoying the misty surroundings.

Sub-Shrine, Ponkuzhi temple

Sub-Shrine, Ponkuzhi temple

Surrounded by bamboo forest and full of water throughout the year it is believed that the water in the pond is the result of the falling tears from the eyes of King Rama’s wife Seetha. They were believed to be in this part during their exile in forest for 14 years.

The Pond - Seetha's tears

The Pond – Seetha’s tears

We clicked some more snaps. Crows on power lines, trees on either side of the highway, perfect opportunity to hone my photography skills.

Handicapped by 18-55.

Handicapped by 18-55.

We slowly started driving back energized physically and mentally.

Penultimate click

Final click of the day

Journey continues..What Next?

After almost three weeks of continuous flow of guests at The Treasure Trove it’s time for a short break. Our first guests for the New Year, two wonderful families from New Delhi left just now. We decided not to honour any bookings for a week and all reservation inquiries were directed other trustworthy accommodations. The wear and tear caused by this long and hectic tourist season is immense.

With Rahul, Jyothi, Vibha and Varun from Delhi. First guests of 2015.

With Rahul, Jyothi, Tamanna and Varun from Delhi. First guests of 2015.

As I relax in the food court overlooking the cottages everything looks like a dream. The decision to start such a venture, coming up with this Eco-friendly model promoting responsible tourism, generating funds for building the cottages,early days of struggle, all those wonderful souls who wholeheartedly supported us, the days of toil when we were running between different approval agencies for getting our papers approved, guests trickling into our place, international travelers giving high rating and very positive feed backs, meeting and befriending a lot of wonderful people worldwide. We still remember the excitement and anxiety when our first guests walked in.

DSC05352 From the earlier days of struggle we gradually moved up to one of the most popular accommodation providers in Wayanad in both domestic and international circuits. We were awarded the Certificate of Excellence Award in year 2013 and 2014 by The Trip Advisor which is the world’s largest and popular travel portal.

tt2013As advised by veterans in this field we always adhered to the policy of not accommodating irresponsible tourists who after consuming alcohol creates a lot of mayhem and trouble. Our decision to accommodate only guests who were willing to stick to our do’s and do not’s initially landed up us in a bit of struggling position but soon we were able to build up a huge customer base.

tripThe most significant milestone in our success was our association with India-Untravelled. When co-founder of India-Untravelled Shivya Nath walked into our place and spent a couple of days here, we were never aware of the impending changes Shivya’s visit would bring forth. We were included as the first destination in the India Untravelled North Kerala circuit and accepting my suggestion Shivya included Bamboo Village Wayanad and Blue Mermaid, Kannur to the list. This partnership bought in high quality travellers, bloggers, writers and photographers to our place and we are proud to admit Shivya and India Untravelled were instrumental for our current popularity and success. The biggest jolt for the new year is the decision by Shivya to wind up the operations of India Untravelled due to some personal reasons. India Untravelled would be operated by new folks or might cease to exist. I still remember the words of Shivya while she was leaving our place 2 years ago. “You don’t need to sit fingers crossed; i am going to popularise your place so that you can quit your job and come back to this beautiful place. Shivya’s words proved right expect for quitting my job :). Winding up of India Untravelled is one of the setbacks we received in 2015 but life still should move on.

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Shivya Nath

Another wonderful personality who supported us right from the start to this day is Sri. Rajagopal who owns the premium homestay in Wayanad, Glenora Homestay. Glenora Homestay located in a picturesque location is listed in The Guardian UK as one of the best 10 home-stay in India and is also listed in most popular travel sites and portals all over Europe. Sri. Rajagopal always supported us by referring guests to our place and wholeheartedly encouraging and appreciating our effort.

A well-wisher we lost in between this journey was Sri. Rajan of Uravu Eco Links. He was a person whom we could bank upon at times of crisis and he used to come up with quick solutions. His pragmatic approach to issues and challenges really helped us in this journey. His love, affection sense of humour and care will always linger in our memories.

Our guest posted excellent reviews in various travel portals, posts about our place in different popular blogs, photographers posted our photos in various sites, guest referred their friends and relatives to our place and there was no looking back. Due to limited number of inventory we were not in a position to accommodate all the enquiries and we had to refer our customers to other places which we believed where responsible and trustworthy. We initiated the plans of building a couple of cottages more but in between we abandoned the plan. Taking into account the stress and strain in running a small property comprising of just two inventories we were really aware of the challenge and toil involved once we go for a upgrade. Further we were not interested in running a pukka commercial model but rather preferred in sticking to provide personal attention to our guests.

This year we are planning to slow down things a bit and stick to the current strategy of only accommodating quality guests. We would want to pay a bit more attention to family commitments and our kids.
Our humble achievements have given us courage to look for a bit of diversification. With our association with KABANI we have plans to venture to a different vertical of this domain, which is challenging but interesting. After all life is all about taking risks and accepting challenges. Currently a road map for this is being laid down by Sumesh, enthusiastic CEO of KABANI and in years to come the effort will start bearing fruits. If things work out as planned we expect all those wonderful people who supported us all these years will be along with us.

Presentation Asia Europe People's Forum, Milano

Sumesh Mangalaserry CEO, Kabani addressing Asia-Europe peoples forum, Milano, Italy.

All these achievements, success, experiences are like a dream. We were able to achieve this from a point of nowhere only because of the divine grace, prayers and blessings of our well wishers and also our hard work and commitment. Hopefully 2015 will takes us to the next level of success.