Jul 27, 2019

gathering at Aroha's Eco Hill resort - 3

It was around 5-15 when I woke up. Freshened up and stepped to get closer to the jungle air. I wandered around and decided to go out for a walk. After a short stroll, I came back to the resort, found quite a few guys up. Govind, Anil and Vijay went out for a walk before the rest of them get up. We came out of the resort, turned right and followed the road going deeper into the jungle. We must've walked a kilometer or so, saw couple of other resorts. One of them was Rotti Kallu. We turned back and once again back at the resort. 

Collage of few shots taken during the short walk. Dry fern, bougainvillea, a canine from our resort and some kind of wild flower found quite commonly here.

After coffee, the resort team announced guests to assemble for the trek. Of 22 boys, just 7 of us were in for a trek, rest of the group preferred to stay back, some weren't awake yet. This is the mixed group from our resort led by Vikas a sixteen year boy from a nearby village. He's a college student, he works at resorts during vacations. Nice of him trying to support his family. At the resort, boys carry out multiple tasks, right from trek guides to waiting tables, cleaning rooms, anything to keep the resort running, guests happy. I guess the resort owner Mr. N M Satish treats his staff well.

Our route went past Rotti Kallu resort and some home stay. A pleasant surprise.. a stream in our path. Water looked so clear and no odor whatsoever. I din't have to take off my shoes, thanks to the bridge of stones. Some guys preferred to wade through.

Half a kilometer further, there was another stream, as wide as the previous one. As we paused to take a few snaps our group continued trekking. A SUV from Saalu Gudda resort was ferrying its guests from the resort to the trekking summit and back.

I waited for the jeep to splash through the stream. Once it passed by the water wasn't really muddy for long which means the stream bed is sandy.

We decided to move on lest we lost track of our group. On the right is the Stone Valley resort. Behind us, the valley we just crossed was shrouded in mist, getting denser every minute. Anil and Srini are in their sweat-shirt carrying our school name, souvenir from the previous gathering.

After a stretch of steep path, we reached a plateau. We are in level with clouds now. I guess these are mist clouds. I was sweating like crazy, feels good when pores are opening up.

This is the final steep stretch to the summit which is known as Kallumetlu view point. I could see several groups from other resorts as well. This place can get crowded during weekends and holidays.

I think Nagaraj was tired, the climb must've taken his breath away. He finds a nice spot looking into the valley in the direction of our resort. Our boys wanted to get some midair shots. They jumped to a count of three but the jumps were out of sync. Here's one shot with all off the ground.

We requested one of the vacationer for a picture.. the magnificent seven.

A shot by Srini.

As we looked around and took pictures, Srini did something different. He was reciting a poem to Vijay and Vikas, our guide. I got curious, went close to hear it. It was a poem composed by Srini himself, a poem dedicated to this gathering of friends. Such a sweet poem it was, never knew the poetic side of Srini. Srini had posted the poem in Whatspp group on May-10, just a handful had acknowledged. I too had missed it. requested for a re-post.

Here are lines of a poem, which belong to our chuddi-buddies..

​​ಈ ಕವನಗಳ ಸಾಲು..
ಚಡ್ಡಿ ಬಡ್ಡಿಯರ ಪಾಲು..

ಸ್ನೇಹದ ಕಡಲಲ್ಲಿ,
ಪ್ರಕೃತಿಯ ಮಡಿಲಲ್ಲಿ..

ಸಹ್ಯಾದ್ರಿ ಗುಡ್ಡದಲ್ಲಿ,
ಶಾಲಾದಿನಗಳ ಗುಂಗಿನಲ್ಲಿ..

ಸ್ನೇಹಿತರ ಕೂಟದಲ್ಲಿ,
ಮುಳುಗಲಿದೆ ನಮ್ಮೆಲ್ಲರ ಮನ!

ಆಗೇವು ನಾವು ತಯಾರಿ,
ಹೋಂಟೇವು ನಾವೆಲ್ಲರೂ ಸವಾರಿ..

ಸೇರೇವು ಸಕಲೇಶಪುರದಲ್ಲಿ,
ತಂಗೇವು ನಾಳಿ
ಆರೋಹ ರೆಸಾರ್ಟ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ..

ಆಗೇವು ನಾವು ರಾಯಭಾರಿ,
ಸ್ನೇಹ ಮಿಲನದ ಚಾರಣ ಕೂಟದಲ್ಲಿ!!

ಬಂದಾನೋ ಸಂಜಯ್ ದುಬೈನಿಂದ ಸಮುದ್ರವ ಹಾರಿ...
ತಂದಾನೊ ನಮಗೆಲ್ಲ ಉಡುಗೋರೆಯ ತನ್ನ ಜೊತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ!!

ಬರುವನು ರಾಜುಮುಂಬೈನಿಂದ ವಿಮಾನ ಏರಿ..
ತರುವನು ನಮಗೆ ಬಾಕಲ್ವಾಡಿಯ ಹಲ್ವ-ಚಿಟ್ಳಿ!!
ಬಾರದಿದ್ದರೇನಂತೆ ಪ್ರಕಾಶ ಹುಬ್ಳಳ್ಳಿಯಿಂದ,
ಕಳಿಸಿದರೆ ಸಾಕಷ್ಟೇ ನಮಗೆ ರುಚಿಕರ ತಿಂಡಿ ಅಲ್ಲಿಂದ!!

ಬರುವನು ನಮ್ಮನೆಲ್ಲ
ಹುರಿದುಂಬಿಸಲು ಪ್ರೇಮಾ,
ಹರಸೋಣ ನಾವೆಲ್ಲರೂ ಅವನಿಗೆ ಆರೋಗ್ಯಕರ  ಜೀವನ ಆನಂದ

ಕಾಕ ಸ್ಲಲ್ಪ ನಾಟಿ...
ಟಾಂಗನ ಸಹವಾಸ
ಹೆಚ್ಚಾಯ್ತ ನೋಡಿ,
ಆಗಿರುವನು ಈಗ
ಬಲೂ ಡರ್ಟೀ!!

2ನೇ ಕ್ಲಾಸ್ ನಾಗ ಜಾತ್ರೀಲಿ ಕಳೆದುಹೋದವ ಈ ಪ್ರಸಾದ..
ಮೊನ್ನಿ ಮುಗಿದ ಕುಂಭಮೇಳದಾಗ ಸಿಕೌನೇ ನೋಡಿ, ಸಿದ್ದೆಶ್ವರನ ವರಪ್ರಸಾದ!! 🙏

ನಾಚಿಕೆ ಸ್ವಭಾವದವ
ಡಾ// ವಿಜಯ...
ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಸಲುಗೆ ಕೊಟ್ಟು
ನೋಡಿ ಅವನು ಪಡುವ ಆನಂದ ವ
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ನನಸಾಗಲಿದೆ ಬಹಳ ದಿನಗಳ
ಕನಸ್ಸು ನಗುವಿನಂದದೀ..
ಮೊಳಗಲಿದೆ ಮೆರವಣಿಗೆಯು ಸಂತೋಷದೀ..
ಸಾಗಲಿ ನಮ್ಮ ರಥವು ಸಂಭ್ರಮದೀ..
ಬೆಸೆಯೋಣ ನಮ್ಮೀ
ಸ್ನೇಹವ ಆನಂದದೀ...
ಆಚರಿಸೋಣ ಸ್ನೇಹಿತರ ಹಬ್ಬವ ಸಡಗರದೀ...
ಕಣಿದು ಕುಪ್ಪಳಿಸೋಣ ಹರುಷದೀ..
ಕಳೆಯೋಣ ವೀಕೆಂಡು ಉಲ್ಲಾಸದೀ..

ಹೋಂಟೇವು ನಾವು ಇಪ್ಪತೆರಡು ಮಂದೀ..
ಆಚರಿಸೋಣ ಈ ಹಬ್ಬವ ಸಂತೋಷದೀ!!


Darshan had offered to compose music for this poem. Wow, we have a composer in this group, great!

The sun was getting bright and warm, time to leave. As we turned back, the jeep we saw earlier was back here. We wanted to check out the beast. It's an oversize four-wheel drive jeep. I'm suspecting there's a tractor engine under its hood.

On the way up I happened to capture some beautiful things. Here's a collage of those beauties. A leaf with serrated edges, mist clouds playing hide-n-seek, a black rock covered in rusty scales and date palm. There's a special quality to these date palm. Guess what. They were barely three feet yet they bore fruits. Either they are the type of plant which bear fruits early or they are the short variety. Amazing aren't they.

Srini posing Balle Ho! In the background is Aroha's Eco resort. You can see few yellow patches next a larger blue patch.. those our boys hanging around the pool. We caught them lazing around!

Back at the resort, a nice long warm bath made me really hungry. Breakfast was typically south Indian.. uppit and dosa. Bread and omelette were kind of rationed. Our gathering was coming to its end but there was one important activity left. That would be to plant 'pannerale gida' i.e. rose-apple saplings within this resort. Claps to whoever thought of this idea. Pits were dug by few workers of this resort and helped us water them after planting.

The first one was planted by Srini, second by Anil and there were few more remaining. Srini entrusted the task of planting the remaining saplings to Pradeep, the friendly resort manager.

Few more groupies before we checked out. What a vibrant color! Wondering if golden yellow was chosen to mark our approaching 50th birthdays. On a personal note, my better-half has a dress of the same color. I used to tease her that she would be noticeable from a kilometer away. Well, I'd to wear that color here. What goes around, comes around.

The group on a bridge across a small stream. There's a cottage on the left which sits across the stream and its called honeymoon cottage.

The checkout formalities took some time, some of the boys utilized that time to clear off some remaining stock. By noon we vacated the place and started or return journeys. At Sakaleshpura, we regrouped at a restaurant for lunch. It was quarter to three by the time we finished. Once a return journey starts, I kind of become impatient to get over with it. Vijay left and then I too left while the group still hung around.

On the way back, I looked around and thought of the past 24 hours. What a time it was! I would cherish the nice feeling for a long time- the ambiance of Aroha's Eco Resort and the liveliness of St. Charles Borromeo friends.

Some where near Kunigal, dark clouds covered the sky. Sunlight shone through a gap in the cloud, something caused the light to disperse and the spectrum projected on the clouds. Here's  that amazing sight which lasted several minutes.


Jul 20, 2019

gathering at Arohas Eco Hill resort - 2

..continued from gathering at Arohas Eco Hill resort - 1.

The gathering of friends commenced around midday. Everyone received their tee-shirt specially made for the event. Lunch, nap break, pool session and tea time happened until now. Our group had vacated the pool except for two still enjoying the cool water in the warm weather.

The upcoming activity was zip-lining. A steel wire ran across this pond starting midway up the tree and ended at the base of another tree on the opposite side.

Srini was the first to try the zip line. I'd seen a zip line at Deccan Trails (near Hyderabad) which was much longer and inclined. That line started on a hillock and ended at the base.. around 150 meters. That was purely on dry land. The zip line here ends with a splash. I felt this was much safer in a way because of the water. Anyhow, I'm not the type to ever try this.

Next on the line was Girish.. what a splash he made! His smile tells its all! It was quite a while since I spent time with people who enjoyed like children :)

That's Srinath.. looks as though he's sliding on the water. For some reason, riders turned 180 degrees as they approached the half-way mark and faced backwards when they hit water. I think it was done purposely so that resistance is least while braking.

That's Nagaraj braking with a huge splash. Wish I'd changed direction so that the riders front was seen rather than just the backs.

Swarup sailing down like an expert. He hardly changed direction until he hot water. Guessing that his horizontal posture helped keep his direction.

Girish, Vasanth and Venky. All of them had two rides t least. Like I said in earlier, there's too much energy n this group. Happy to see be part of an energetic group :)

Every ride involves two steps - wearing the harness and taking it off. Activity co-coordinators at both ends of the line helped riders with that. Wearing it was easy but taking it off was different, required little effort by the rider. During Nagaraj's two rides he was uncooperative, this poor guy had a tough time unhooking Nagaraj off the line. Instead of lifting himself up, he would lean back so much that he would be horizontal. I had a good laugh watching the duo struggle! On the second  instance, Vasanth came to rescue and the scene was even more amusing. How much I laughed at the trio.. oh man!!

With Nagaraj's second ride, zip line session ended. Sun had set minutes ago, the evening had just begun. Tables were setup for us on the volleyball court, just behind one of our cottages. We had another round of tea and snacks. The planning committee made an announcement that the event sponsors would be felicitated.. a token of appreciation for their special support.

 The sponsors Rajesh, Balu, Venky, Vijay, Daya, Anil, and Naveen were awarded a special souvenir each, a navy blue cap. A little formal ceremony amidst a casual gathering. Have to admire the planning team once again.

Srini felicitating Balu the banker.

With the honoring ceremony done, happy hours for the evening was officially announced.

The seven Samurai..

Daya, Naveen, Vijay, Anil, Balu, Rajesh and Venky
Weather was getting cooler by the minute, it actually got chilly. The resort guys lit a fire next to our tables. It was nice to feel the warmness in the chill jungle air. At some point, everyone was required to change into yellow tees, time for the group photo. In the given conditions, we shot several pictures, this one being the best, its blurred at places but not too bad either.

Just as the photo session came to its end, we had another member join us.. that's Vasudev. Wonderful of him to make it to the gathering.. better late than miss it altogether.

The session went on until about 10 PM after which we had dinner. I was tired, needed to hit the sack, recharge for the morning trek. By 11 most of us retired to their respective cottages while some carried on with late into the night. The pool, in artificial light looks mesmerizing. The resort guys are responsible enough, they have a sense of balance, a sense of limit. The lighting is for adding to the ambiance of the place, for the guests to enjoy. Promptly at 11 PM, the pool lights were switched off.

The bonfire continued to burn, probably as long as our group celebrated their meeting.

Back at my cottage, my bed was on the first floor, right next to a large window facing the valley. It was cool and silent, no bothersome insects flying around, perfect condition for a good night sleep.

will continue in gathering at Arohas Eco Hill resort - 3.

Jul 13, 2019

gathering at Arohas Eco Hill resort - 1

Memories of childhood days at Bhadravathi are are like evergreen forest. The MPM colony, its the open grounds, a park, tree lined streets and its peaceful ambiance; the row of gardens in VISL colony, its tree lined streets; the great campus of St. Charles Borromeo School where my academic journey began and the river Bhadra after which the town gets it name. The visit to a sugar mill situated between Bhadravathi-Shimoga organised by the school. The walks with my family from the colony to Sunnadahalli Anjaneya Devastana which was on the other side of Bhadra. The concrete bridge across the river was barely 10' wide and quite low. I could climb down on to the boulders and play in the gushing waters. Also remember seeing the river flowing forcefully, the bridge was wet by splashing waves. All that ended suddenly in II standard when dad quit the job, and we moved to Delhi. I lost touch with my friends there, except for my neighbor Jayanth. Years later, at BMS College of Engineering I met Sateesh Kavi from Shimoga was my senior at St Charles. We were classmates for four years, been in touch ever since.

All the while I had a wish to reconnect with my St Charles school and friends there. In March 2014 while touring historical spots around Bhadravathi, I happened to spend a night at the guest house in MPM colony and the following I visited my school which had changed little over the years.. happened to see my II standard classroom occupied by tiny tot juniors. Later sometime 2018, I asked Sateesh if he knew anyone from his immediate junior. Fortunately he was, he connected me with Srinivas Kharidi. We chatted over Whatsapp several days before Srini introduced me to his group of 40+. I was a stranger in the group for almost a year until Srini's message of April 20th .

Hi all,
Save the dates!
Class of 86 Reunion
11th & 12 of May '19
Some of us haven’t seen each other since our last reunion at Golf Club, Bangalore in 2014. 
What a memorable event it was, thanks to all your participation. Time and again you guys have been wanting a meet, but at a different location!!  We are with you. 
Now the time has come to get-together yet again. 
Announcing the much anticipated get-together.. let us all wind-down from the busy schedule.. catch up & laugh away with our gang.. weekend long!!
Please do come.. let’s have fun, & make the event a memorable one.
This time, it is proposed to have a overnight stay at a hilltop resort near Sakalespur, & the tentative dates are 11th & 12th of May '19. 
We shall have a Alumni meet at Aroha Echo Hill Resorts near Sakaleshpur. 
Please click on the below link to know more about the venue. 
Approximate distance from Bangalore to the resort is around 200 km. 
The itinerary
We need to plan our journey early in the morning on Saturday the 11th of May so as to reach the resort for check-in & welcome formalities by 12:00 noon, & the next day at 11 am we need to check-out. We shall have lunch together before starting the return journey. 
In the two days we shall enjoy the exotic mountain ranges of western ghats, the coffee plantations, wild forest, natural streams & reminisce our childhood days, along with lot of activities at the Resort. 
The budget per person (excluding conveyance) is approximately ₹4,000/-   
Since it is peak holiday season, we need to make advance payment immediately & make necessary reservations. 
We would like to know as soon as possible who all will attend the meet.
Kindly confirm by this evening, so that we can proceed further with the reservation formalities.  
- Bala, Balu, Srinath, Srinii, Vasanth, & Venki

The planning committee did some serious work to get things organized. Meanwhile in the group, Srini and Srinath sent regular reminders; the list of attendees, tee-shirt sizes were asked for, drink & food preferences were inquired.. covered every possible detail. With two days to go the final list, guidelines and a route map were posted in the group. I admired the team's diligence.

I was in touch with Anil for our logistics but nothing was planned. Anyhow, I had thoughts of seeing Sakaleshwara Devasthana, Manjrabad fort and if possible Shettihalli chuurch ruins. To cover these places I had to leave Bangalore really early, so I arranged a cab to pick me at 4-30 AM. The night before I received a call from Anil, he would be joining me.

Our journey towards Sakaleshpur started around 5-30 AM, 30 minutes behind schedule. We were out of city limits and Nelamangala by 6-00 but on Hassan road the toll gates reduced the average speed. Our cab-driver Sachin drove safe & steady, with two breaks for coffee and breakfast, we reached Sakaleshpur by 9-45 AM. Enroute members of the group had posted their locations on WhatsApp, I was getting familiar with folks now. At Sakaleshpur, Sakaleshwara Devasthana was open, it's an ancient temple, well maintained but the metal railings and grills were an eyesore and no information about its history whatsoever. The stop lasted 10 minutes and moved on towards Manjrabad fort where an hour went by including the trek up & down the hillock.

Now, towards the resort.. we took Mudigere road, the ride was scenic with the road winding through the hills covered by coffee plantation. At Hanbal we turned off Mudigere road and took a road going towards Devaladakere from where turned into another inner road. By now I'd seen around 30 boards of various home-stays and resorts. The tar road gave away to a dirt road, driver deep into the valleys, Aroha's Eco Hill resort was on our right hand side, nestled between bases of two hills where the valley started. It was a nice location, away from the road. Here we are looking at the resort's rainwater pond, the dining hall in the background. The resort is completely uneven, covered with tall tress, cottages spread out giving the place a relaxed ambiance. 

As we got off the cab, we were welcomed by the resort manager Pradeep and with him was another gentleman from our group who had arrived few minutes ago. That was Dr. Vijayanand from Shimoga. So three of us had reached on time, 20+ on the way. We chatted, learned that Vijay had joined in III standard. 30 minutes went by with no one turning up, I requested Pradeep to allot us a cottage, might as well freshen up. Our cottage had six beds on two levels, large windows and a nice view of the resort, the hills and the valley. Just as we changed into shorts and stepped out the group from Bhadravati arrived.

Devaram, Vijay, Girish, Anil and Nagaraj
Few minutes later another group arrived. We were expecting one person from Mumbai and Dubai as well. Rajesh had come all the way from Mumbai. When I saw Rajesh, it was like looking at Irfan Khan the great actor from Bollywood.

Rajesh, Srini, Anil, Balaji, Manjunath and Vijay
With so many people meeting after years, there was lot of emotions flying around. And in the middle of that I was trying to get familiarized. Srini has recognized me in LKG class photo, then Dayanand had memories of him and I playing together near his house in MPM colony. In fact, the last I met Daya was at a wedding in Bangalore during early 80s at a wedding, then out of touch.

Dayanand, Anil, Vijay and Srini
The last of the batches had arrived bringing the count to twenty two, two dropped out last moment. Here's the list of attendees except that Vasu was expected to reach in the evening. Impressive isn't it. A group of 22 had gathered with a notice of just 3 weeks.​

1. Anilprasad K
2. Dr. Balaji M Sriramulu
3. Balasubramanyam L
4. Dayananda V A
5. Devaramprasad Venkataraman
6. Girish Dwarakanath
7. Govindaraj T
8. Dr Manjunath S B
9. Manoj G Kumar
10. Nagaraj Krishnappa
11. Nagendra Rajgopal
12. Naveen L Meda
13. Premanand Kumar
14. Rajesh Khamitkar
15. Siddeshwar Prasad
16. Srinath Prasad P K
17. Srinivas S Kharidhi
18. Swarup Shivappa
19. Vasanth C Nachappa
20. Vasudev Umapathi
21. Venkatesh S Tarikere
22. Dr Vijayanand Udupa

Greetings and exchanges were amusing. Very lively group! I was happy to have made it to this gathering :)

Premanand, Anil, Rajesh, Vijayanand, Vasanth, Venkatesh, Girish
Devaram, Govind, Swarup, Manoj, Dayanand and Nagendra 
The group was so close knit, it felt as though I was in a group of teenage boys. Everyone spoke so freely, no inhibitions whatsoever. Wonderful chemistry.

Vasanth, pulling a towel around Daya's neck, was the kingpin for amusing quips. He could make even Mamata Banerjee smile :) On the right is Prem from Mysore, the most silent.

We assembled at one of the rooms for tee-shirt distribution. It was a golden yellow polo tee, a super bright color which could highlight you. I was trying to imagine the group in yellow, like a bunch of flowers. Second from left is Srinath, one of the planners.

Not sure who shot this picture. On the extreme left is Balu the banker, another from planning committee. In the darkness of the shadows there was an open bottle and few glasses moving around. A session was in progress.. cheers!

The group had lunched and retired for a break. I couldn't fall asleep but it was nice to stay still and flat. In fact most guests were resting, the resort looked still.

As I stepped out of my cottage, I saw our group had occupied the pool. More than half the group was in it.. like school boys shouting and splashing around.

At one point few boys took to diving.. big splashes when heavy weights Vasanth and Girish hit water!

Few chose not to enter the pool, including me. These guys were peacefully sitting there, watching the action. While the boys in the pool wanted them to join. Their peaceful time was disrupted when Nagendra splashed water in their direction. This is the point Daya decided to enter the pool.

Whoever designed this resort landscape did a great job, utilized the contours cleverly. A pool with an amphitheater and a foot bridge is a nice mix. This space could be used in a multiple ways. As the sun went down the group's energy seems to be surging.. the anticipation of happy hours I guess.

This picture might look like a repeat of the previous but there are some changes in few moments. Srinath finds a spot for himself while in the pool, Nagaraj is trying to unite and Swaroop just separated from the group.

Here are few shots, few subjects unaware of being caught.

Dr. Manjunath watches Govind trying to stay afloat. Four close buddies recalling some school time incident. The other two pictures are all about beautiful smiles. One incident when I was caught.. Srini and Venky noticed me aiming my telephoto lens at them. Daya gives a double thumbs up.. yes man, we are having a great time!

Except Anil and Balu, all were present for this group picture. I was longing for a trek on those hills.. Trek is usually a morning activity, will have to wait until then. One of the resort staff announced snacks & tea. That kind of ended the pool session.

Some dried and changed into casuals and few remained in pool attire since another water activity was pending. The zip line ride.

will continue in gathering at Arohas Eco Hill resort - 2.