We have been traveling a lot and here is the evidence…

Our son is coming up with brand new names for airlines, emblazoned on the copious pictures of jumbo jets he has been drawing, since the first day of August when he set foot in one.

After spending six weeks in India traveling to three different ends of the country (east, west and south), and six different destinations, you can be sure we have thousands of pictures in our collection. Especially now that we have another photographer in the family

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To recap, I spent a very fruitful and rejuvenating two weeks at the Isha Yoga Centre. Feeling as good as new, I tearfully ate my last vegan meal of the entire trip and flew to Bangalore

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where the hubby and son joined me for a rollicking ten days with my cousin and his wife. Their hospitality left its mark in the kilos we have been carrying around our mid-riff ever since! But more about that later…

The three of us made a mandatory touristy one-night stop at Mysore to look at a musical fountain in the Vrindavan gardens and the really ornate  Mysore palace.

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I had been to Mysore in 1987 or so and had checked out the musical fountain. So with the confidence of an old hand, I led my two trusting men to the fountain and waited for the show.

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We waited.

And waited some more.

Finally it dawned on me that the fountain next to which we had been standing was defunct and derelict and had been for quite a while!

So eventually, before it was too late, we made our way to the brand-new fountain with all its glitzy lights and music.

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And this is how it looked when not on…

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Yes, wouldn’t recognize it!

Talking of going back, I also visited my alma mater, the Indian Institute of Science, with my men in tow.

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Spent a lovely few hours with my former Ph.D. adviser and his wife, we were meeting after eleven years.

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So many memories of the eventful seven years that I spent in that campus while getting a Masters and a Ph.D., and yet many of them had no place to anchor themselves anymore. Entire departments have moved and reconfigured themselves, morphed into something else altogether. Quiet, even desolate parts of the sprawling campus have become concrete jungles. And yet, some of that famous greenery still remains.

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For a long weekend, we went with the cousins to a coffee plantation up in the hills of Chikmagalur and stayed in the planter’s bungalow.

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It was cool, misty and rainy the whole time just on the top of those hills, while down below in the plains, it was business as usual with the heat. And we were in the middle of nowhere. Most of our mobile phones did not manage to find a network up there. We spent a couple of days – unwinding and stuffing ourselves some more.

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Oh yes, we also took a guided walk through the plantation to get educated about coffee plantations, although we could only walk through the main roads, because the trails were infested with leeches and the trees were somewhat unpredictable given how soft the ground was  with the rain, ahem! Not that the precautions helped. Because my husband went barging into the bushes to photograph something or the other and managed to get a leech latched onto his naked ankle. At least it answered our son’s question,

“What is a leech?”

A classic show and tell!

Next we flew on to Mumbai where we spent another few days with my sister and her husband, stuffing our faces and taking in the sea air. We also took some mountain air in what was surely the windiest part of southern India on that day. More later…

We wrapped up our India trip with the last week in Kolkata, capping it with the fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration of our parents.

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It was a momentous occasion to be sure, and an emotional one. So many near and dear ones who were present at their wedding have passed on. I met relatives whose paths do not cross with mine normally, time and energy always being a constraint. Everybody was happy to be there and showered us with words of appreciation for the event that my sister and I had organized. Truth be told though, my sister did all the planning, organizing and execution while I played the role of assistant. This meant that she did all the worrying and fretting…,

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while I calmly imparted my opinion about everything.

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Jokes apart, we had kilos of divinely fragrant bel phool that evening,

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which is a special kind of jasmine and perhaps the one thing I miss most about being here in the West. I wish I could post its fragrance on this blog. You will not see this kind of jasmine usually, unless you come to this part of the world.

My son handed out strings of the spherical white flowers out to guests as they arrived.

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And then late at night, draped some of the extras on his front-loader and ferried them across the living room.

We draped strings of the flowers all over our parents’ home…

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and I like to imagine, brought back a tiny bit of that charmed day, fifty years ago.

 

 

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