Monday, June 25, 2007

Day trip to Pearl Valley

I have been craving for a a bike trip since a few weeks now. I don’t know whether it was more a craving to be with nature or a craving for a long ride on our beloved bull (Royal Enfield). But we haven’t been able to go anywhere because the weather and our health were not keeping too well. Finally this weekend we ‘had’ to satisfy the craving. Searched for some blogs on the internet for nearby places where we can see nature at its best. Finally we settled on Pearl Valley as it was near and the description was good. A waterfall just 40 kms from Bangalore sounded too good to be true. So the plan for Saturday was all set with the helpful fellow bloggers giving nice detailed directions on how to reach there.

Saturday morning I had an extension of yoga class where they taught us Neti kriya which aims at clearing the nasal cavity and prevents cold, allergy which are so widespread in Bangalore. So after I finished my class and reached home it was almost 10:15 in the morning. After that we were thinking should we pack something with us for lunch or have an early lunch and go as we had read that we don’t get good food there. Finally we prepared bread pakoda and ate quite a few of them and packed the 'Bingo' snacks with us. We were all ready with thick jackets as it is getting cold and cloudy here in Bangalore and it was also very windy that day. Next day we read in the newspaper that some trees fell on the road near cricket stadium. It was almost 12:30 by the time we left. We went straight till the road forked. The straight road leads to Bannerghatta national park, take the left turn from there and keep going straight. Lot of new construction and new layouts are coming up on the road. When you keep going straight, you reach Jigni town. There you will find a crossroad but don’t turn, keep going straight. You have to reach Anekal. If in doubt, ask for Anekal, which is what we did at the Jigni cross road. The auto driver said it is 11 km from there. Once we reached Anekal we were just going by instinct. I was the navigator and Anurag was the driver. You go through the road passing in front of the KSRTC bus stop and the busy town market. Once you are out of the town, some sign boards say Thalli Road. Keep going on the road and you will see a board on the right saying Happy Homes or something. Thats where you should turn and take the road on the right. It is quite near once you are out of Anekal. But we didnt take the turn, instead we kept going straight and finally reached the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border with sign boards saying Welcome to Tamil Nadu and Welcome to Karnataka respectively. Took pictures, turned back and took the correct turn. On the way 2 boys stop us to give a 7 Rs ticket. The road also seems to be newly built. Kept going till we reached Hotel Mayura Nisarga run by KSTDC. That is the place where we have to park for a 3 Rs ticket. This is for two wheelers. It is more for 4 wheelers. There are some steps which take you down. There is a temple which was closed, Rocks, water and a small stream of water falling. Cannot be called a water fall. I had read that water is there only when it has rained heavily. But we were not disappointed. It was so beautiful. The rocks, the water, the butterflies, the trees, the trek, the weather, the was all so beautiful. It rained there and we were trekking on the mud path in the rain. It was the first time I was enjoying the rain without the fear of any consequences. It used to rain for 5-10 minutes and then stop for a while. It was nice to sit on the rocks and enjoy the beauty of nature. Whatever small stream of water was falling, it created small droplets and I had read that because the falling water creates droplets similar to pearls, the place is called Pearl Valley. Then we walked up and went to the restaurant and had tea. It tasted a bit strange..not sure why. We left from there at around 4:15.
The ride back was good…not as much traffic as we had while going. The roads are also good except for two patches of really slippery road. The TATA Sumo in front of us slipped and went right and again left before going straight. Anurag was scared more than me. I had two people to trust...Anurag and our bull. Not sure whom I trusted more to prevent falling ;) The ride has increased my love and respect for our bull. It has never failed us till now. The wind was so high that day; I could feel myself being pushed back or sideways due to it. Sometimes even the bike felt some push and pull due to the wind. I am glad we had such a sturdy vehicle...I would have been scared if we were on one of those plastic bikes.
Reached back by 5:30 and headed straight to the friendly neighborhood restaurant for 2 cups of coffee each, some idlis, dosas and chaat. Next day we were thinking of going to big banayan tree but were too lazy to do so. May be next time. On Sunday we went shopping instead at shoppers stop and Brand Factory. Also had lunch at The Dhaba at HSR layout. Food and service was unimpressive to say the least.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dinner in a jiffy

After all the convenience foods bashing, I am all set to write how I put them to use yesterday. I reach home by 8:45 - 9 and to cook dinner after that is a challenge and convenience foods help me live up to the challenge. I prepared a exotic (I tried it for the first time hence 'exotic' ;)) vegetable. Mixed vegetables and paneer in coconut milk. Although I do not particularly like coconut, I give my thumbs up to coconut milk, obviously store bought, conveniently packed. So I got some pre-cut, packed mixed vegetables from food world, frozen peas, aashirwad multi-purpose cooking paste and the coconut milk. Also paneer, which I believe is no longer considered a convenience. I haven’t come across people who make paneer at home. I took some oil, put whole garam masalas like pepper corns, dalchini, bay leaf, cloves, elichi and let it sizzle for a minute. Add haldi and about a cup of mixed vegetables. Cover and cook till almost done. Stir the vegetables once in a while particularly if not using a non stick pan. Add salt, peas, paneer. Then about one and half teaspoon of cooking paste. Stir and add the contents of a small packet of coconut milk. Let it come to a boil and switch off immediately. And your dinner is ready in a jiffy.

Notice the absence of any spice powders like dhania powder, garam masala. The sizzling of whole garam masals in oil lends the flavour to this dish and so does coconut milk. Mild,creamy flavours is how I would describe this dish. Paneer makes this dish more creamier.

One more tip I would like to share regarding pav bhaji. Add little bit of beet root to the bhaji to get a wonderful color to the bhaji.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Oh for a breath of fresh air !

I am back after a long gap. Was not keeping too well in terms of health. Now I am fine or so I hope. Doc said the problems are due to stress. I would have been quite surprised to hear that but my mother (also a doc) had predicted the same cause. Stress has become such a common word in fact I should have been surprised to know I don’t experience stress. Looks like all people living in cities/metros are stressed. But still people want to live in metros. To live a 'high' life. To enjoy malls, super markets, convenience goods, frozen food, just a minute meal. But do we get any free time in spite of having all the tools meant for saving time at our disposal? What are we saving time for? So that we can work more, earn more and buy more time saving goods. Wow...what a vicious cycle. Of all the weekend options representing 'high life' (multiplexes, shopping malls, food courts and so on), my favorite weekend activity is going for long walks near the garden, better still riding far away from the maddening city towards nature. Simple joys, simple lives, simple meals, all of these are still the best sources of happiness. Do we need to live in cities for these things? I wonder why is a simple life of growing your own food and living in clean air, not considered a good option. It sounds like the best way to live, to me, but obviously doesn’t seem so, to a lot of other people.
Human mind is not the one to get satisfied says my husband. It wants to do more, discover more, invent more or just wants more...more power, more recognition which most often translates to more money. I guess humans were not satisfied just knowing how to grow/hunt food and eat it. They tried to find out ways to do things better and so the quest to satisfy the human brain with its endless power went on and on. Every five years there comes a new way to live and we wonder how we ever managed to live without this gadget.
But in the midst of all the brain power and innovation it brings, are we pushing ourselves as well as Mother Nature into danger? New diseases are cropping up trying to threaten mankind. But the human brain is trying to beat the viruses and bacteria in their quest for human suffering and I would like to think humans are succeeding. I hope we find a way to beat stress and pollution who are also on a quest for human suffering.
Global warming - the newest talk of the town, immediately comes to mind when I think of Mother Nature being harmed. I am sure we humans have the power to overcome it if only we put our brain power to use in order to regain what we have lost.
How I wish to smell clean air, the unpolluted smell of nature. Will this become a reality some day?