The Lunchbox

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, October 31, 2013


Dir: Ritesh Batra
Cast: Irfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Sajan Fernandes (Irfan) is a loner working in claims dept of a government office which is decades behind the age of computers, the employees work on big fat hardbound files there (in two of the scenes you see Sajan diligently marking lines with a ruler and a marker). Sajan is about to retire in few days. Even after working for 30+ yrs in the same office, he does not seem to have any friends in the office, he sits alone for lunch, he doesn't say 'hi-bye' to anyone in the office. What made him so or has he been like that all his life, we don’t really bother to ponder over that when Irfan Khan plays Sajan! His long pauses before he answers, his empty gaze out of the window of a bus etc convinces us pretty much that Sajan Fernandes must have been like this since ages. Lovvvved the way Irfan pauses and says nothing when Nawazuddin Siddiqui asks him, 'kaise lag raha hai sir... Itne saal ek hi dept mein the aap.. Abhi retire ho rahe hai'.

Ela (Nimrat) is a housewife, another lonely soul in one of the stacked up flats of an apartment in Mumbai. Her husband seems severely disinterested in her. After sending her daughter off to school, she often tries new recipes with the help of an aunty upstairs. That's her only break in the monotony.

On one of those rarest of the rarest days, instead of Ela's husband, Sajan gets the dubba sent by Ela. That leads to a chain of conversations between the two through the written letters exchanged in lunchbox. I loved the way their conversation builds and a very beautiful camaraderie blooms between the two. Though their conversations start with the taste of food, it meanders through quite esoteric plateaus ranging from Bhutan's gross happiness index to Sajan seeing his dead grandfather in the bathroom. There are more esoteric things in the movie like the aunty upstairs saying she cleaned a running fan and Ela's mother saying she is feeling hungry sitting in front of her husband's dead body. I personally did not like Sajan naming Ela and projecting her as his girl friend when he goes to Nawazuddin's house for dinner. I wish he had stopped at the long pause there. Well, that could be my way of perceiving Sajan.

What made them not exchange their mobile numbers? I think the telephonic conversation could have never been a match for the fun of writing those handwritten letters and exchanging them hidden inside the lunchbox. I think Sajan and Ela knew that well! The movie has moments which tugs at one's heartstrings. For example, when Sajan suspects the lady who committed suicide with her daughter could be Ela or when Nawazuddin almost tears Ela's letter with the roti in his hand.

Loved Irfan, Nimrat and Nawazuddin. Kudos to Ritesh for giving us such a beautiful film.

PS: Not an ounce of doubt on the caliber of Irfan but on a whimsical note, just had this discussion with a friend of mine about whom would we want to see as Sajan if not Irfan. Hmm.. Anupam Kher - might have suited well too. Paresh Rawal - Hmmm.. I dont think his expressive eyes go well with Sajan's persona. Naseeruddin Shah - Bingo... Would have nailed it!, Boman Irani - That could be interesting. He would overdo certain mannerisms of  Sajan, but would have given his own interpretation to the character of Sajan (could have drifted away from the Sajan, Ritesh conceived!). However, I want to see Boman in such roles. Who else... Anant Nag from Kannada! Well, that's an interesting choice too!!  Let me know your choices :)


Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013


Dir: Pawan Kumar
Cast: Neenasam Satish, Shruti Hariharan, Achyut Rao

The movie begins with a voice reciting 'nee maayeyoLago, ninnoLu maayeyo (are you part of the illusion or is illusion a part of you)?' - a famous devotional song by Kanakadasa. The protagonist is Nikki, who calls himself just another sheep out of 90 lakh people in Bangalore (he says he is from Chikkanaayakana doDDi... Got the pun?). Nikki does the odd job of a torch shiner in a debt struck talkies - it's a thankless job where everyone is led to their respective seats in the darkness but the torchman remains faceless and anonymous. Life is pretty much smooth going for Nikki except that he suffers from insomnia. A chance encounter with a 'jadi booti vaid' gets him Lucia - the pills which not only gets him sufficient sleep but also makes him hallucinate and live his wishful life in dreams. The first night of taking Lucia, in Nikki's dreams, he has become a reputed movie star. His coveted life in dreams is shown in B&W but his struggling reality in color (with a purpose to be revealed at the end). To Nikki's amazement, the characters in his dreams are the manifestations of the people around him in reality. His theater owner Shankranna is his manager in dreams, the police who played a prank in real life is actually a much obedient cop who protects him in his dreams, his love interest - the pizza shop girl of real life is a wanna be heroine in his dreams, a dangerous money lender is an extortion caller in his dreams. Night after night and pills after pills, the movie progresses with his dreams and real life in parallel. There is professional jealousy, arrogance, detachment and alienation in dreams but a struggle, contentment and innocence in his real life.

It's time when it's time! His dreams and reality crash into each other and the audience are brought down with a thud. How real were his dreams or how dreamy was his reality? Or was it magical realism? (I thought 10 times before using this word. The word reminds me of a famous Japanese writer whose stories I never understood but bothered me for weeks after reading them). Was it insomnia? Or was it a fair dose of philosophy? Why were his dreams B&W, why was his real life colorful? Finally who is real? Nikki the torchshiner or Nikki the actor?  With a fair amount of topics like Euthanasia, the police investigation and the science behind hallucination thrown in, the director holds together a magnificently creative concept till the end (the effective background score in the climax which raised my heartbeats exponentially is worth mentioning).

One of the very few complaints I had was, wish it was shorter by 10-15 mins. It could have been crisper. The other complaint being, the heroine’s role could have been etched out better.

Hail Pawan!! His first movie Life-u IshTene was much loved, Lucia is a movie to remember for many years to come in Kannada! Don’t be surprised if a movie buff tags Lucia along with The Machinist, The Butterfly Effect and The Inception! When I say that, I am not comparing the grandeur of the making but the creative quotient of the script!! Go, watch it... Its with English subtitles too.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , , | Posted on Saturday, July 20, 2013


For me, the movie was a well laid argument of Wings vs Roots, though with a convenient solution to it. Kabir (Ranbir) is a dreamer who dreams to visit thousands of beautiful cities across the globe. Maintains a scrapbook with each page dedicated to the destinations he plans to visit. He is ready to live a life of a nomad with no attachment and commitment to his family. The movie is his journey to places and how he struggles to stay grounded. Aditi (Kalki), though a boisterous lass in Kabir's gang - is the first one in their gang who understands the needs to adapt to the conformities of the world. Avi (Aditya Roy Kapur), a carefree boy who pretty much remains glued to his addictions to liquor and gambling till the end. Naina (Deepika), who falls for Kabir in their Manali trek very early in the movie, is a nerdy medical student (yes, Deepika could look nerdy :-p) who is little possessed by the idea of being the best in everything she does from studies to reaching the summit in their trekking to her dance in the sangeet party. She is the one who keeps Kabir rooted too, well.. Almost.

At the end of the Manali trek of these four, Avi gets to know that Kabir is all set to take off to foreign shores for his studies. Though Avi and Aditi feel little betrayed that their friend hid the news from them, Kabir tells them that he wanted to surprise them on the last day of the trek. Avi and Aditi come to terms that they had to part ways at any point soon due to their career options and stuff, Naina returns heartbroken from the trek. 

Years pass on and we are shown Kabir with cameras in exotic cities around the globe as part of some travel show, living his dream. With not much whereabouts of the exact locations he is in, I loved the brief disconnect I had with Kabir during this time in the movie. I believe that was an intentional one by the director to make us feel what his friends and family feel for him.

Eight years later, when Aditi decides to marry a rich but a nice man (Kunal Roy Kapur), it is the time for reunion of the four. Avi's addiction to liquor and gambling has grown, Naina is still in love with Kabir (thank God she is not married to one of Rahul Khannas or Abhishek Bachchans or such cameos), Aditi is pretty much sure of her decision to lead her life with her husband, having covered many of the places in his wish list - at the cost of missing his dad's funeral and missing his freinds - Kabir is still in love with the nomadic life. In the fun and frolic of the grand wedding, Naina makes Kabir understand how important it is to slow down and enjoy the present moment than to rush towards meaningless goals. She also confesses to Kabir that she always loved him. Guilt struck for not seeing his dad for the last ever time and realizing what he had missed in life, the man who always craved for the speed and rush ironically yearns to stay in Naina's embrace for few seconds. Kabir realizes pretty much that, he has been the man who was everywhere but ended up being nowhere. 

When we feel Kabir is going to 'settle down' finally, his visit to his home where his widowed step-mother lives, turns things upside down. Kabir confesses how guilty he is for his deeds but, his step mother gives a nod for his dream quest, saying that’s what made his father proud of him always. That gives a boost to Kabir's wander lust again and now he plans for his future in remaining destinations on his scrapbook but, this time with his lady Deepika beside him. Had it been his real mother, would she have been so forgiving when her own son did not turn up for his father’s funeral? I believe the answer is NO. That must be the reason to have the character of a step-mom for Kabir. Moreover, would Kabir have continued his wanderlust after marriage with Naina? What if Naina was a career oriented girl? These are the reasons, I said the argument ends with an easy and impractical solution.

I have been a big fan of Ranbir, he plays these roles with superb ease. I liked Farookh Sheikh in the role of Kabir’s father too. It feels so good to see these yesteryear actors in pivotal roles. If you are ready to bear the heroines and some bimbettes in designer clothes in Manali trek, and a gracious but unwanted cameo by Madhuri and few minute necessary evils of a commercial cinema – it’s a nice watch…

It's not funny

Posted by Anantha | Posted in , | Posted on Saturday, June 29, 2013


When TOI had this ad of Chennai Express on the front page some time back, with SRK and Deepika in 'South Indian costume' and dark, fat lungi clad goons in the background, I said to myself  'oh no, not again'. Does the cultural stereotypes in films/ads/reality shows/daily soaps bother me? Yes, it bothers me, but as equally as any other stereotypes.

Talking about the cultural stereotypes - it equally bothers me when Hindi films have actors talking with 'that' accent when they are playing the roles of south Indians as much as a Nepali is shown as goorkha as much as a Punjabi is shown as loud and always ready-to-dance-for-a-bhangra beat or as much as a stingy Gujarati or as much as a Rasagulla and Mishti Doi craving Bengali. If these are inter-state portrayals, coming to Kannada movie, why does an old Coorgie gentleman always have to be a rifle wielding ex-army personnel with handle bar moustache and a Mangalorean has to start every sentence with 'enta maraya, manDe bechcha aagide' (an idiom in coastal Karnataka to say one is tensed) and a Uttara Karnataka guy always has to spout cuss words.

Though I never consider Rohit Shetty a 'thinking film maker', but these stereotypes irk a little when you see too much of them all around. Agree, comedy sprouts from exaggeration and the intention of many of these gags is to be funny, but these gags misfire when the exaggeration is remotely authentic and characters become mere caricatures. I know jokes are subjective, but for me it stops getting funny when the undertone is 'you are like this only' and becomes utterly funny when the undertone is 'we are like this only'. I hope that distinction summarizes what I find funny and what I find offensive. Now is the tricky question of who are 'we' and who are 'they' rather more precisely, when do 'they' become 'we' and ‘they’ fail to become ‘we’. The simplest answer I would like to give is - it's 'we' when we embrace all idiosyncrasies of all the languages and cultures across the length and breadth of India and make fun of 'our own' ethos. A good friend of mine – forget any effort to learn Kannada – he cannot even distinguish between Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam even after staying in many southern states for more than 10 years. Mind you, there is a clear distinction between ignorance and reluctance. This guy is plain reluctant. Isn't that a complete failure to understand Indianness and a missed opportunity to become 'we'? 

Enough of defining the offensive cultural gags. Let me also mention few nice playful characters where the director knew the nuances of the cultural barriers and successfully treads the tight rope walk.

1. The cultural clash of the Punjabi family and the Bong family in Vicky Donor. I found it funnier when a Punjabi friend of mine explained me some of the intricacies of the dialogues and the gestures.

2. The role of protagonist’s father ably played by Sundar Raj in the Kannada movie Pancharangi. Sundar Raj was the perfect middle class English loving Brahmin uncle, whose use of Kanglish and mannerisms are just too funny. We friends laugh our hearts out how many ever times we see that movie.

These are the ways to be funny without offending any one’s sentiments. I wish all the film makers were this sensible…

PS: Oh! by the way, read this post by one of my favorite film critic Bharadwaj Rangan which inspired me to scribble some of my thoughts on this topic.


Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Saturday, April 27, 2013


Too much in my mind to blog and too little patience to draft it as separate posts elaborately, hence is this itsy-bitsy post again.

  • One of my favourite playback singers of 60s/70s, P.B.Srinivas is no more. Many of his songs are my all time favourites. ‘Tam nam tam nam’, ‘baaDi hoda baLLiyinda’, ‘baara olidu baara’, ‘aaDisu noDu beeLisi noDu’, ‘aakashave beeLali mele’, ‘ide nanna uttara’, ‘baare baare chandada cheluvina taare’, ‘barede neenu ninna hesara’, ‘vithala ranga..’ are some of the ones coming to my mind right now. He was the voice for Dr Rajkumar for many many years until Raj himself started singing in his films. P B Srinivas’s voice was very soulful, earnest and there was some ‘truthfulness’ in his voice which holds my attention till date. All the music lovers will surely miss him.
  • Another person I liked breathed his last breath last recently. It is famous film critic Roger Ebert. Quite frankly, I was introduced to his reviews very late. I was led to his reviews on Suntimes site by a fellow blogger. Only after reading Roger Ebert’s reviews, we would know how shitty the reviews we come across in umpteen news papers and websites are. Most of his reviews were insightful references for me. At times, for some of the movies, I have read his reviews only to understand and appreciate the movie better. At times, I have gone to his site like a kid approaching a teacher to understand a complex maths theorem. Reading his reviews was like discussing a movie over a coffee with a friend!
  • Continuing the chain of sad thoughts, Armstrong was denied to compete in a swimming competition in Texas recently. I am dead against doping in sports but for some reason I have blind spot for Armstrong. When I say that, I do not support what he did in those 7 Tour de France titles, but I feel the mentioned incident and the likes are little too harsh when he has paid for what he has done. That reminds me of a tweet I came across when he was just stripped off the Tour de France titles. Some dude had tweeted, “Uske bachchon ke haath par tattoo karwaado ki ‘mera baap dope maar ke cycle chalata tha’”. Man, that’s really really rude for the family of a once sporting hero.
  • I’m glued to TV set since the start of the IPL. Enjoying the nail biting finishes as much as the light hearted conversations of the ex-cricketers with Gaurav Kapoor and Samir Kochar in Extra Innings. Hosting the show since the start of season 1, these two guys seem to have got the knack of talking to people and keep the show going. I am thoroughly enjoying it.
  • What is IPL without new Ads, ZooZoo is back with all its cuteness of the ZooZoo world. Of the other new ads, I like the Havells fan ads with ‘Hawa Badlegi’ theme a lot. Particularly the ads in which the guy surprises everyone by willing to change his surname in the registrar office and the one in which the maid is told by the family to sit with them for dinner. What struck me the most in them is the bang-on acting by the actors. I liked the way the guy says with great conviction, “nahin madam, yeh Shanthi Pandit hi rahengi, Main banoonga Vikas Pandit”. And in the other ad, I liked the way the maid sits uncomfortably on the edge of the chair and smiles acknowledging the complements for her sabzi. Kudos to the casting also here. In the short duration of few seconds, to tell a story with such superb acting and also to sell an idea is not an easy job. It reminds me of an article of Harsha Bhogle in ESPNCricinfo some years ago, in which he had defended the idea of T20 games as cricket has evolved catering to the changing needs and the short attention of span of cricket fans. I remember he mentioning T20 games are like the TV commercials, just because they are short, it does not mean there is no creativity, there is no good acting, in fact it requires a different skill to be an ad film maker than to tell a story in 2+ hour movie, comparing the movies to the longer formats of the game. It is not necessary that people perform well in both the formats as different formats require different kind of talent. Isn't that example just apt?

Aashiqui poster and the sharing of an ice cream!

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Friday, April 19, 2013


The promos of Ashiqui-2 (found the song ‘Tum hi ho’ quite nice) on music channels – particularly the kissing scene under the leather jacket – reminds me of Aashiqui. I think I was in 2nd or 3rd standard when it was released. The songs were a rage then. For few more years after the movie release, the letter J was reserved for ‘Jaane jigar jaane man’ and M was for ‘Main duniya bhula doonga/doongi’ every time we played antakshari J We used to go to an aunt’s house which was 5-6 kms away from our home, to watch the movie on Doordarshan every Sunday evening. Those were the days (aah... the nostalgia) when families used to visit relative’s homes to watch tv, as not everyone owned a tv those days. OK, I will keep the nostalgic TV watching episodes for some other post and some other time. My aunt’s college going children used to borrow video cassettes and play some new movies on their VCR. One Sunday evening when the movie on DD was not so great (or whatever was the reason), my cousins decided to play Aashiqui video cassette. Curious about the way VCR used to gulp a video cassette, I always used to stand close to my cousins who used to operate the VCR with great pride. My cousin gave me the video cassette cover to hold while he was inserting the cassette into the VCR. Seeing the picture on the cover, I asked him “What are they doing under the jacket? Are they sharing an ice cream and hiding under the jacket so that their moms do not catch them?” My cousins and the people who were waiting for the movie to start were in splits listening to my question. Controlling his laughter, my cousin had said, “Yes, they are sharing an ice cream”. Aashiqui-2 reminded me of my innocent question J I remember we all loved Aashiqui then. Deadpan acting of Rahul Roy and Anu Agarwal bothered us the least, everyone loved the music and hence the movie. Though I have faint memories of the plot of Aashiqui, one other thing I remember is the song ‘Too meri zindagi hain...’ A small girl used to dance to the song sung by her father (I suppose)   showing her midriff on a stranded street on a cold night under the balcony of Rahul Roy’s house. I used to feel really bad for that girl. 
Silly 90s movies and how funny we find it now. Though I don’t have any expectations from Aashiqui-2, but nice it reminded me of my childhood and my innocent question.

The Beach Trek from Honnavar to Gokarna - Day 2

Posted by Anantha | Posted on Saturday, January 26, 2013


The day 2 started pretty early for us. By 7:30, we had packed our tent and started walking towards the next hill at the end of the beach. A boat had 'Nature Nirvana' painted in big fonts and was parked on the beach. A villager who was on his morning walk on the beach said the beach is now called Nirvana beach after that beach resort had started. The long stretch had started as Kadle beach and had ended as Nirvana beach.

To our sursprise we saw few women carrying water from one of the creeks of the rocks on the hill. That was a stream of fresh water flowing down the hill all through the year it seems. That was really a nature's wonder, to the left we had salt water to infinity and here was a source of fresh water right on the shore. We freshened up there and ate few apples that we had carried and walked up the hill. Once the trail on the hill led us to the back of that big hill, we saw a range of small hills all covered with bushes and there was no clear path. We still marched ahead, as always, Byre in front and me following him. The trail got narrower with many thorny bushes on both the sides. Both of us got many scratches, some cutting deep enough and some not so deep. At one place I was bitten on my entire back and neck by red ants. We must have disturbed its nest some where in the bushes. The burning sensation was unbearable but surprisingly was momentary. I took off my shirt and vest and cleared the ants. In an effort to help me, Byre was also bitten. Even after that, we had some hope that the narrow trail might open up some where and we might get to see the next beach. Few meters ahead, the trail almost demanded us to crawl on our knees. At that point, we gave up. We decided to walk balk to Nirvana beach. The decision was not so easy, as we had to face the ant attack again on our way back. We got ready for it too. On our way back, almost at the same place, the ants bit us again. Luckily there were not many this time. We did the exercise of removing our shirts and vests again this time. Amidst all that burning sensation on shoulders and back, we had a hearty laughter about how foolhardy we are when it comes to trekking.

Sleepy Kaagaala village...

Seeking directions to the nearest bus stand from Nirvana beach, we walked towards the road. It was 10:30AM by then. That means we had wasted nearly two hours trekking that formidable hill. The village we reached was called Kaagaala. That was a typical laid back village of North Kannada. I love such places. In a shop there, I had ginger soda and Byre had some other aerated local drink. The shop owner was wearing a faded white vest expanded to the maximum to cover his large belly and a white dhoti. A typical costume for a shop owner who might have his house at the back of the shop. You can find many such houses where one of its rooms adjacent to the road being turned into a shop in North Kannada, South Kannada and Udupi districts. When we told about our failed attempt to cross the hill behind, the two other people at the shop said, it is difficult to cross the hill at this time of the year. The shop owner told us to catch the bus to Aghanashini river.

We reached the place where river Aghanashini meets the Arabian Sea. As we had seen the last time where the nameless 'local river' had met the sea, here also the union of river and sea was beautiful, no roar no noise, just a calm union. Agha in Sanskrit means sin, Aghanashini means the river which relieves us from our sins. The river is born in Sirsi and joins the sea at TadaDi. We waited for the plying boat to cross the river. While we were waiting for the boat, we turned back and had a look at the hill which we failed to climb. The hill indeed was formidable, it was all covered with bushes this side also.

A short ride in the boat and we reached TadaDi port. A guy told us, from TadaDi port, beaches of Gokarna are not very far. We were happy and also sursprised that we were so close to our destination. A relaxed lunch at Om Beach in Gokarna looked very much possible. The first beach we got was Belekan beach. We stopped at a shop there and gulped few packets of Masala Buttermilk. The beach had few huts for rent facing the sea. At the door of one of such huts, we saw a long bearded firang sitting and smoking. He clearly was stupored. May the weed help him attain his enlightenment ;-)

A short uphill climb from Belekan beach led us to Paradise beach. We saw a bunch of foreigners sunbathing there. The beach was full of rocks and did not look suitable for taking a plunge into the water. We walked to the Halfmoon beach. Byre said, Halfmoon beach is ideal for swimming. For the little bit of floating skills we have got, calling it swimming will be an exaggeration :-) We kept our bags on the rocks, slipped into our swimming trunks and got into the water. Few were already in water with life jackets. We got to know later that boats ply between Om beach and Halfmoon and charge some bucks for providing the life jackets. Then they will be dropped back to the Om beach. When we were getting into the water, a firang female also got into the water. She seemed like an expert swimmer. Within few minutes she was at least half a kilometer away from the shore. We continued playing in water. The firang female kept swimming away. At one point we really had to strain our eyes to spot her head in the sea, it looked like a mere black dot in the blue water. Byre joked she might reach Murudeshwara by evening :-) I was envious of her swimming skills. It's high time for me to hone my swimming skills. My breathing techniques are terribly wrong. I need to practice a lot to get it right. Lot of firangs were walking across the beach towards the Paradise beach. Some of them got into the water and some lied sunbathing there it self. A middle aged firang male was lying holding a book on the beach. He seemed disinterested in the book he was reading, rather seemed like he was waiting for some thing. Then a boat came from Om  beach. All the people who were still in water with life jackets got into the boat and the boat left to Om Beach leaving Byre, me and just handful of people in water. The firang was waiting for this I think. He kept his book aside, came near the rocks where we had kept our bags, removed his shorts - the only garment on him and plunged naked into the sea. I exclaimed, Waaww that's freedom, I want to do it too some times!

Sunset at Om Beach

Feeling hungry, Byre and I got out of the water, dresses up and headed towards Om Beach. There are lot of people who walk across Paradise, Halfmoon and Om beaches. Hence there is a clear trail on the hillls that connect these beaches. We reached Om beach around 3PM. The shoulders were paining after carrying our heavy backpacks for more than ~35kms and we were hungry too. We got into a nice hotel facing the sea ordered our food and beer. Byre booked the bus tickets back to Bangalore from Gokarna on his mobile. Again few nice conversations with firangs around... Drinks.. Nice food and the beautiful view of sunset from the beach. Thus was the end to our most memorable trek till date.

The Beach Trek from Honnavar to Gokarna - Day 1

Posted by Anantha | Posted on Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I remember planning for this trek some 3 years back. After all the postponements because of onsite travels of my buddies, their marriages, their first kids birth etc etc... at last, it happened in the last weekend. With Basu in Singapore and Prashi settled in UK [well, almost...], it was just Byre and me for this trek. With just two of us, some of my office friends said, it might not be safe to trek and even to stay on the scarcely populated beaches in the night. It did bother us a little when we planned, but just hoped that everything goes smooth. Though many trekkers have blogged about their trek from Gokarna to Honnavar I insisted Byre that we do the reverse, as Gokarna would be a better destination to relax and enjoy after a demanding trek than Honnavar. The decision was proved very right at the end of two day’s trek.

Byre had arranged for the tent from one of his colleagues and it was my responsibility to carry all the food items for two days in my backpack. We met at the Majestic KSRTC bus stand around 8PM on Friday night. The Raja Hamsa bus started at 8:15PM. When we asked the bus conductor at what time we would reach Honnavar, he replied it would be 6AM and he seemed very sure about it.

The bus indeed reached Honnavar bus stand at 6AM. We negotiated with a sleepy receptionist in one of the hotels near the bus stand for a room just for 2 hours. He did not budge for anything less than 150 bucks. We freshened up within no time and caught a bus to Haldipur, from where our actual trek would begin. Haldipur is just 7 kms away from Honnavar bus stand. We got down at Haldipur, bought a bottle of water and started walking towards the beach. We knew the 2 litre water bottle would never be sufficient, but were confident that we would surely get some villages where we can buy water bottles near the beaches along our route. We reached Hadipur beach. We made few phone calls to our near and dear ones to inform that we are starting our trek. It was 8:30AM by then. The famous Nethrani island was visible from the Haldipur beach. The beach looked nearly empty with very few people and lot of baby crabs to welcome us. The harmless baby crabs just ran away from our footsteps as we walked and some played hide and seek in and out of their holes in sand. My impression of beach always has been a densely populated dirty place with plenty of litter all around. I must say, all the beaches I have visited were the same. But, Haldipur beech looked clean and serene. These are the kind of beaches where you sit in the evenings and get into a conversation with the waves. It cannot happen on densely populated beaches. I felt happier by the prospect of more and more such beaches during the course of our trek.

After walking for few hundreds of meters, we got a small hillock to climb. As no trail was seen to climb, Byre took the charge. Give such challenges and our boy will always lead you. I followed Byre carefully. After reaching the top, the sea looked more magnificent. Another stretch of beach and there was another hill to climb. This time, the hill was bigger and again had no clear trails. At one point, we had to struggle to get to the next rock. The dry grass made it more slippery to carefully stoop and get across. While I was waiting for Byre to get on to the next rock, Byre was carefully gripping the grooves on the rock and stepping down on the rock below. The ramping rock below did not look easy to step down. A shrub at the base of the ramping rock below, made the descent little tricky. As I was watching Byre, he slipped badly and slid down, his attempt to hold the dry grass to stop the fall did not succeed. He landed at the base of the ramping rock with few scratches on his hands made by the dry grass. Byre got on carefully and asked me to pass my backpack to him. It would have been impossible to cross that rock with the backpack. When we thought we had crossed those two rocks successfully, I too slipped badly. I was sitting and crossing the rock sideways and the dry grass again tricked us. I slid down at least by 2 meters. The falls we had were not very dangerous, but it alerted both of us and demanded more respect for these small hillocks. The hill after the next beach was full of shrubs. Both of us got few scratches on our hands and legs. On reaching the top of the hill, we got to see Dhareshwar beach. The foothill also had a small banana grove. Few men were toiling to cut the mud bricks near the banana grove. We enquired for the name of the beach and also the nearby towns. People were pleasant in answering our questions. The Dhareshwar beach was easily more than 5-6 kms and that was the longest stretch of beach I have ever seen. The initial few hundreds of meters of Dhareshwar beach must have been serving as the open lavatory for the fishermen and the people of nearby village. Byre and I walked carefully. Once we got past that stretch, the beach was clean again. We started walking barefoot with the waves hitting our feet often. It was a mesmerizing experience to walk barefoot on such a long beach for hours together. There were more and more baby crabs and also big crabs on this beach. I found their running amusing. They seem to run even sideways!

We saw a huge number of sea gulls on the beach. As we walked, they were flying away from us. After hours of walking on Dhareshwar beach, we saw a small stream of water joining the sea before the next hill. We later realized that must be a river. When we asked the fishermen there for the name of the river, they said it is some 'local river'. The term amused me. The river was shallow in few places. We tried to cross the river by walking across, but the water level was up to our waists. It was enough to wet our backpacks. Hence we decided to take the road instead. Caught an auto rickshaw and got dropped into the Kumta town for our lunch. It was around 1:15pm when we reached the hotel. We had walked continuosly since we started without any long breaks. We were terribly hungry. Byre relished the fish thali and I ate my veg thali.

Enquiring about the bus to the Kumta beach, people guided us to catch the next bus at 2:30PM to a place called VannaLLi from the old bus stand.The bus dropped us at a place called Beach Cross. Looking back from the beach, we could see the same 'local river' at a distance. The small hills on that beach were not much of a challenge if we were not full and if it was not the hot afternoon Sun. We rested under a tree there. One of those hills had some dilapidated structure, we saw half burnt logs there. Some people must have camped there.

Getting down from those hills was little tricky as we had to walk a lot on boulders to reach our next beach. The small beach there had predominantly Muslim names painted on the boats. Crossing that and a walking on the rocks again, we saw a longest stretch of beach. This stretch was longer than Dhareshwar beach and easily more than 8kms. We found few firangs sun bathing on that beach. None showed any interest in exchanging courteous hello's and hi's except an old lady who was walking along the beach. Walking further ahead, we found few fishermen on the beach. They said this beach was called as Kadle beach (not to be confused with Kudla beach in Gokarna, we were still very far from reaching Gokarna). With Sun slowly leaning towards the Sea, Byre and I decided we should walk as close as possible to the distant hill visible and camp there right on that beach. We found few villagers walking on the beach, few had come to enjoy the sunset. We decided on a 'safe' place away from bushes and much away from waves for setting up our tent. As setting up the tent took some time, my wish to see sunset sitting relaxed in front of the tent did not work out. Sun was already set by the time we had put up our tent. It wasn't still dark, Byre gathered few dry coconut branches and small dry twigs for setting the bonfire. We saw a firang couple also collecting dry twigs there. We initiated a conversation with the firang male. He said they are from Germany, and was fluent enough in his English. Though he sounded little reluctant initially but opened up about their plans in India after Byre spoke few lines in German to him. He looked happy seeing some German speaking Indian on a nearly inhabited beach in India. He said their vacation in India is of 5 months and they did not have any fixed travel itinerary. Listening to him we were clearly envious of their vacation. 5 months of vacation in a foreign country!?? That's practically impossible for us. The Germans collected enough wood for their campfire and started making the campfire few meters away from our tent. With the camphor we had carried, it was easy for us to make the campfire. Making sure, the fire is caught properly, we sat down for our food and drink...
After few drinks and the dinner consisting of bread-bhujia sandwiches with sauce, the campfire doused. We made no efforts to light it again as by then the moon light had  painted the entire beach in silver. The white waves hitting the shore looked radiant. As they say some priceless moments in life come for free, we were there on the moon lit beach under the open sky watching the white waves hitting the shore savoring our food and drink spending hardly any bucks to savor that moment.

The year that was...

Posted by Anantha | Posted in | Posted on Friday, January 11, 2013


  • Auroville Marathon (Pondicherry) [12th Feb, 2012] - This was my first ever marathon. Took 5 Hrs 23 Mins to finish it. Read the details here. I am going there in next month again for this year’s event.  
  • TCS Open 10k (Bangalore) [27th May, 2012] – Got a ‘Finisher Tee’ from Nike for finishing within top 1500.
  • Airtel Hyderabad Marathon [26th August, 2012] - Clocked 4Hrs 31Mins. Almost an hour less than the time I took for finishing Auroville. Link to post is here.
  • Bangalore Ultra 50Kms [10th Nov 2012] - Took 5Hrs and 45Mins to complete my first ever Ultra Marathon. Read the post here.

Apart from these, I have done 5-6 Half Marathons and 2 practice marathons. The Endomondo stats say, I have run over 1200Kms in the last year!! During this, I have seen a considerable improvement in my timing. Earlier I rarely used to clock 5:20 mins/km, now I often hit close to 5 mins/km. Of course, the challenge would be to sustain that pace for longer period in longer runs.

Ok.. That has been the achievement in running in the year that was so much dedicated to it. Running has become part of life now. A friend of mine (a non-runner) once asked me, 'Till when do you want to continue doing this?' I said, “As long as I enjoy it” Yes, the improvement in timing, the travel to few unknown cities, keeping fit and earning few acquaintances has been part of running. If running was just about that, I might not have thought about continuing it. What makes it joyful is the drop of sweat on the forehead when I am pushing hard on an uphill... The sweet pain in legs during the stretch after a run. These are just priceless.  

The resolutions pertaining to running for this year would be to bring the FM timing within 4 hrs 15 mins. And to visit at least two states in India which I have never visited before. 

Belated New Year wishes to you all :)

Image courtesy: Team In Traning