On NH66

I love driving down the stretch from Goa to Udupi.

On this stretch despite the dug up roads, crazy diversions and sliced old houses, which to me are slicing up of an old way of life there are some salient point.

One of them is a small eatery which is tucked in a village called Gunavante some 30Kms, off the town of Kumta on the NH66, it was known as NH17 before.This eatery was introduced to us, by my friend’s father and it did not have visible name board.

The sliced hillock and other buildings make mooring rather difficult, as the familiar landmarks are no more there. On our onward journey we missed out on this joint maybe having had breakfast at Kamat upachaar at ankola we were not really looking out for it.

Dosa haven

On our way back we managed to sight the place and we got down for breakfast. The place is as if we are walking into somebody’s house maybe we are I am not sure, the simply arranged old fashioned benches, unpretentious decor he has four tables and four benches, yes the old fashioned ones, the only difference this time is that he has tied the bench to the wooden pillars of the house as the sliced terrain renders the risk of the bench and people sitting on it getting toppled.

He opens at the crack of dawn, as his first customers land at 7 am. The menu is very rustic, “Tuppa dosai” there is no hint of Masala, with traditional coastal chutney which is made with coconut and urad dal, and sambhar again the coastal kind,  avalakki Mosaru that is beaten rice with curd served with pickle, buns another traditional coastal snack made of banana’s and maida served with chutney, and Idli and vada… it is called vada and not the urban “meduvada” for in the rural or traditional Udupi cuisine meduvada is something else. The only concession to modernization is Puri-bhaji, which is puri with potatoes instead of the traditional puri-palya or puri with random vegetables cooked with coconut in coconut oil.

The rustic seat, secured to prevent toppling, check out the traditional coastal pillars.

The dosa’s are amazing, yes they do seem to swim in ghee but the crispness is just right it is served piping hot. The coffee is to amazing, Idli of course was rather flat, maybe because we really just enjoyed the amazing dosa,

As we were waiting for the dosa to arrive, I could see the old grinding stone, where a gentleman was grinding for the idli and dosa for the next day. It reminded me of my grandfather and his siblings and many of the young people from the Brahmin families during the turn of the last century.

People had just begun moving from their villages outside to find jobs that were considered modern like putting hotels youngsters also moved to town to study. Traditional people would leave home after school, do bit of their studies at Mangalore or Madras and move on to Madras for higher studies. Though these people were not impoverished there was a lack of cash since transactions would be in kind. It was kind of  became an accepted norms for the Brahmin boys who left home to study to be offered stay and food at these hotels in return they would grind and prepare the batter of the next day, cut up vegetable for and help the cook get ready for the next day.  These activities would be supervised by the owner’s wife.

So and Udupi hotel came to mean a place where the food was cooked and served by Brahmins,  it also meant the use of onions was also zilch, as opposed to the military hotels which served non-veg and drinks.

Of course Udupi hotels now mean different the kind of food served is so totally different from where it began.

Eating there brought home the extent we have walked from independence to today, culturally value wise. The container of water at the entrance every guest walks up washes his or her hands, asks the owner if they can wear their foot wear in, it occurred to me we are at the crossroads where a way of life is slowly dying.

back on NH17 I mean NH66


Culture in the Supermarket

The terrors of the future will not come from the drab repressions of an encroaching bureaucracy, but from the neon lights of a thousand supermarkets, the sounds of a million automobile accidents and from the public cremation of the dead astronauts as they return to earth.”
― Christopher Riche EvansMind In Chains

This was the opinion I walked around with until I went to Lulu’s Hypermart in Cochin, as I browsed the shelves I had an epiphany that this could be like the traditional open Kochi market with varieties of rice the red and white variety, dry fruits which Kochi was trading point for, pepper in sacks, I could be shopping in a clean air-conditioned local market.

Jogappa Shanbag our spice man.

1946 is apparently when the first supermarket appeared on American scene. Its not really very long ago. Though books by Agatha Christie do have a reference to grocery being packed in wrong sizes in bags, but until then where was the food? Well it was in homes, gardens, local fields and forests; it was grown in the kitchen garden they were cooked fresh and stored in the pantry, there was no branding.

Our rice came from our fields in the village, and vegetables were carried to us by women who grew them in the back yards so this entire concept of empowered working women is an old hat. Oh! Our spices came either from spice market during the Jatra… the village fair or bought from Jogappa Shanbag who doubled as the medicine man.

When we were young it was a given thing in among surgeons to go to England for a year do their MRCP or FRCS as it went return and talk about the travels as vividly as the narration of Sindabad the sailor, the existence of the supermarkets was one of the destinations to be addressed.

When the supermarket cult hit urban India, I kept thinking here it comes the “the Nth Aryan invasion” like Ms.Marple we will be buying our grocery in wrong volumes, the stocked would be homogenous without respecting the local food habits.

Ragi Hurihittu in the More. chains of highland Karnataka

Over the last three years, I have made it a point to observe the Big Bazaar in various towns, what I find interesting this also holds good for the retail chains like More… And Hyper-mart – the shelves are stacked with very ethno-specific goods. Like the Big Bazaar in Hyderabad has varieties of chutneys both wet and dry. The range of pickles is also amazing. They pack it up in small quantities like 100 gms  if you ask for it.  the vegetable section had banana stem on sale too. on the rack with masala along with usual Everest masala’s there were lot of local small scale industries with very specific Andhra masala like the Bagara Baingan masala. While the Bombay Big Bazaar was high on the Goda Masala, instant sabudhana khicidi and other Maharashtrian fare.

The super markets in Bangalore were high on Ragi and Ragi products.  While in Kochi we saw varieties of avalposi and banana in their breakfast and cereal section. The traditional masala mix for stew and avial and other coconut curries though the sales girl told me they were not as popular as the frozen masala’s. the vegetable section had local traditional vegetable cleaned, cut, sliced as per the cuisine’s need.

Maybe a visit to the local supermarket might be an eye opener to look into the food culture.

avalposi from Kochi Lulu’s Hypermart




A Sacred Grove –Nagvemcha Raya

nagvem cha raya (1)
sacred grove at Nagvem

Growing up in western coastal towns, Nagabana, the placement of Garadi all made me realize that the ethnic religious cult was very close to nature and revered nature. Unfortunately it is being devoured by the more powerful brahmanical cult. Interestingly Kalidasa’s Vikramuurvashiiya talks of Nakshatravana or the green patch. The legend of Urvashi also has her turning into a tree, and the kannada folklore talks of Chelvi the daughter of the sacred grove who marries the prince of the land but is destroyed by his families insensitivity.

Communally protected sacred groves are found all over India. They have religious connotation for protecting the community. These were areas where hunting and logging are prohibited. If logging is done then it has to be done with sustainability in mind and substitution. However collection of honey and deadwood is allowed.

nagvem cha raya (4)
a panel of a seafarer

These groves are sometimes associated with temples/monasteries/shrines or with burial grounds. Sacred groves like the Alpine Meadows protects natural habitat on religious grounds.

The districts of south Kanara and Udupi have nagabana’s dedicated to the snake god which is form of sacred grove, while the Kodavas maintain the DevaKadu and they are dedicated to Aiyappa.

nagvem cha raya (3)
The Funnel spider Unique to Goa.

The brahmanical texts refer to forests of three types. Tapovan— inhabited by the rishi’s.Mahavan the natural grand forests, both these are considered to be Raksha’s or sanctuaries and ordinary human beings are not allowed to enter these forests. Then there were Sreevana which means forest of prosperity these allowed collection of dry wood, and forest products and limited amount of timber as it did not disturb the ecosystem.

The sreevan allowed cultivation and nurturing of certain plants, recreational activities and religious activities were associated with these groves. Each village would create a grove with Panchavati or a cluster of 5 trees that represent the five primordial elements, earth, water, fire, air and space. Yet, somewhere all forests are one… they are all echoes of the first forest that gave birth to Mystery when the world began.

nagvem cha raya (6)
The panel of the snake goddess

Vruksha-ayurveda is the science of plant life and interweaves mystic beliefs and conservation of ecology.  Every forest has its own personality. I don’t mean the obvious differences, like how English woodland is different from a sahyadari’s, or the deodhars… each has its own sound , smell, rustling whispers and whisperings gossips. A voice speaks up when we enter their acres that can’t be mistaken for one you’d hear anyplace else, a voice true to those particular trees, individual rather than of their species.

nagvem cha raya (8)
The Gajalakshmi Panel

The sacred groves were the repositories for medicinal herbs and plants and replenish able resources like fruits and honey. They also associate with ponds and streams, to meet water requirement of local communities. We need to recreate new sacred groves and maintain the old ones, for they are the biodiversity hotspots, with rapid urbanization, plants and animals are becoming extinct and the urban landscapes require lungs. If the day comes when our descendents can venture with wonder into any forest we will have gained back more than a perfect tree. We will have gained a new reason for hope.

These are not only Fantastico they impact the quality of life and living.

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The Great Ones

leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts it about one life influencing another.

#Madeofgreat #Manipal #TMAPai #ophthalmologist


town of manipal

Growing up in the small town of Manipal one would assume that we would be country hicks devoid of the flamboyant all conquer ring world that exists in the cities. We were lucky; we lived among men and women of visions and conviction. I dedicate this blog to many people who were made for greatness

tma pai

Dr.T.MA.Pai the visionary who envisioned Manipal and started building it. the venture not only has nurtured talents in India and abroad, it has also provided employment to so many youngsters who would have otherwise left the town and gone seeking better prospects, here these individuals stayed in the rural environment handled agriculture and supplemented their income with a steady job.
Dr.Pai’s vision has inspired many business men into venturing into education as a business. He always had time for us kids, at least for a smile and he would ask us which class we were in each time he met us. Yet he bothered.

venkat mama
invite to Dr.Hande’s book release

Dr.H.V.Hande a humble LIM doctor, who began his career as a private practioneer in the quite lanes of Chennai, he grew to become the health minister of the state, he trans-rendered the Kamba Ramayana and the latest is the Tamil rendering of Dr.Ambedkar’s speech.
Dr.PN.Srinivasa Rao, posthumous son of widow, he worked his way through college and was one of legendary surgeons when alive,
The villagers of the village of Mudradi, they have innovated and created opportunity within the town, there is no vandal urbanization they have the rural ethos intact yet the town has two schools, the children publish their research work. There three small scale home industries. A well established healthcare unit, a performing art training and performace center which conducts an annual festival.
To me these are leaders, for…
Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts it is about one life influencing another. If our action creates a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more then we are excellent leaders.
Leaders are not, as we are often led to think people who go along with huge crowds following them. leaders are people who go their own way without caring or even looking to see, whether anyone is following them. leadership qualities are not the qualities that enable attract followers but those that enable them to do without them. They include at the very least courage, endurance, patience, humour, flexibility, resourcefulness, stubbornness, a keen sense of reality and ability to keep a cool and clear head, even when things are going badly. True leaders in short do make people into followers but into other leaders.
These people are not just leaders; they are also dreamers, after all winners are dreamers while it is not necessary that dreamers are winners. Like their dreams were the key to their future ours are the key our future. The bible says, “Without a vision, a people perish” the dream the vision is necessary.
Be it Dr.Pai, Dr.Hande, Dr.Rao or the entrepreneurs of Mudradi, they did not surrender their hopes and dreams to the fateful limitations that others have placed on them. Their vision and destiny did not and does not reside in the naysayers or the cautious cousins and doom prophets. They listened, heeded advised and made an educated choice. Do not surprise if you find a complete absence of anything mystical or miraculous in the manifested reality of those who are so eager to advise you. Friends and family who suffer the lack of abundance, joy, love, fulfilment and prosperity in their own lives really have no business imposing their self limiting beliefs on your reality experience.
At the end of the day management is about doing things right and leadership is about doing the right thing.
What these people taught us think was about mission and people. Mission… what you are trying to accomplish… do not do anything until you know what the mission is, and what the energy that you contribute is. This was drilled into our hearts and our heads by these people who have achieved greatness. When we commit ourselves to the mission knowingly then we are talking trust, reliability, authenticity and maybe even simplicity like the brand Tata motors stands for, and is reinforced by Lionel Messi.

Tata Motors Joins hands with Messi.



footwear care outside the  rayara mutta at Kachiguda.
footwear care outside the rayara mutta at Kachiguda.

Like a true Udupi -ite last Thursday I went to the “rayara matta” at Hyderabad, this was the sight that greeted me, I left my footwear outside and walked in, when I came out a girl popped from nowhere and demanded money for the footwear I shooed her away… but it made me think

We were to go to Kumbhashi, that is between Kota and Kundapura. Ratna doddamma got into the car bare foot, my brother very diligently reminded her “doddamma, mettu” that is wear your footwear, but she flashed one of her warm, smiles, and told him,”I am not wearing it, after all once we go to the temple we will be leaving it behind in the car, so whats the big deal, why do I need chappals in the car.”

I remember leaving our foot wear in the vegetable vendors shop across the “Raghavendra Swamy mutt” at the Udupi Rathabeedi. I remember people requesting the general hangers on the temple patio to keep an eye on their footwear and a courtesy would either give them a portion of Prasad, usually a banana or discreetly slip a coin.  Eventually there was this young boy who would constantly be told to keep a watch and he would be slipped in a  20 paisa with inflation one rupee coin.  Then came a stage where he began demanding money, this could be simply because he did not want to take responsibilities for temple goes are notorious for looking out for bargains or freebies or he wanted a fair energy exchange.

Simple act of addressing a need gave rise to an enterprise, last when I saw the kid, well a middle-aged man now, he had a portable stall with innumerable pigeon hole shelves and he charged 5 rs. per pair of shoes, and 10/- for a mobile.

Someday we might even see, a book online, ”paaduka seve,” where you book your pigeon hole in advance and deposit your footwear, premium “Paaduka seva” would include water to wash your feet when you come out of the temple and at Platinum cards you can dry your feet too.

image courtsey internet
image courtsey internet

Traditionally we do not wear footwear into a place of worship. The Sikhs have a beautiful, bee hole structure where people place their foot wear a token is given to them after their worship they return the token and pick up the foot wear. This service is for free.

DesiZaika Raichur adige with udupi oota– Bringing Raichur food to Udupi

Raichur thali
Raichur thali with Bhaakri

Udupi  the temple town of Karnataka, has lent its name to the hospitality industry by lending its name to  become a cuisine cult “Udupi hotel” most of these that we see today, are the standard cosmopolitan fare that homogenizes various cuisine to create one standard taste.

Though the traditional Udupi cuisine if you want the original one go to “Mitra Samaj” in rathabeedi Udupi. Is quaint and different from the fare served in the “Udupi hotel chains.”

However it is possible to see different cuisines in Udupi it could be the changing Udupi palate or changing Udupi population. Last visit I discovered DesiZaika, that serves authentic northern Karnataka food. Interestingly the owner is specific he is not vending the popular “Dharwad Khanavali” food which is ethnic and generally recognized as the northern Karnataka food.

DesiZaika has three thali’s one is authentically the Raichur kind of food. As the Raichur borders Andhra the shadow of the Andhra palate manifests. The spices are stronger than Dharwad; there is also the presence of Rasam, and Sambaar, and absence of “Kodhel” the typical Udupi dish.

The Raichur thali comes with Baakhri, while the Andhra thali is served with Puri, the northern thali has chapatti.

One dry vegetable in all the thali’s.

Pulses in the Raichur thali comes as Jhunka, the spicy chickpea flour dish, in the Andhra thali it is the bland pappu, and North Indian thali has the standard north Indian dhal.

Andhra taali wiith Puri  and Pappu
Andhra taali wiith Puri and Pappu

Mr.Desai the owner sticks to tradition with chutney, salad, papad and sweet dish.

The thali serves both curd and chaas.

Other than the three staple thali DesiZaika also serves an unlimited version called the DesiZaika special. There breakfast fare is also out of the box with Avalakki, and Thalipeet.

I finally found a rival to woodlands Udupi my other favourite non Mitra samaj joint.


kallu chappara (1)the stone structure as you enter the town of Barkuru is the Kalluchappara, it is the sole witness to the stories of justice meted out in the town that houses the legendary.(vetala) and the Mahasthree (https://parwatisingari.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/bennekudru-mulamahastree-ammana-gardi/).kallu chappara (2)

The Kalluchappara is stone shade, with a central stone slab for seating. At one corner is the pond around it the bustling town of Barkur has developed. It pleases the romantic in me, to say that the dispenser of justices faces the village goddess and the Mahashtree while dispensing justice he/she would be backed by the political strength as the fort lies behind the Kalluchappara when we face the temple.https://parwatisingari.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/bakuru-temple/kallu chappara (4)

The temple carvings are clean, and quite intriguing. This particular carving intrigued me with its very secular presentation. Sitting on platform, so this is definitely a person of higher social hierarchy, the gadha that he is sitting on, again would mean a guardian, the padmasana is again a person who is spiritual a snake on the head, the carving really fascinated me,

a stone seat, probably where the justice dispenser sat. If he faced east he would be facing the fort, if he faced west he would be facing the temple.

A thirtankara,kallu chappara (6)

Another statue with this was again very interesting, the hoysala style of architecture  seen in beluru Halebeedu is seen here without the voluptuousness. The carving is less androgynous. The atibhangis are less emphasized though the detailing is more meticulous here.

The man-crocodile-bird motif
The man-crocodile-bird motif

A motif that is seen all over the Barkur architecture—a combination of bird, crocodile and man—the face is blurred, it could be a monkey, if it is then it is son of Hanuman who is supposed to be guarding the seas.

Right over the power seat, in all the relics at Barkuru is the many petal lotuses. The flower is used symbol of an Umbrella again the sign of power.

The man-crocodile-bird motif
The man-crocodile-bird motif