Monsoon in the Western Ghats

It is the typical November Bangalore weather now - winter is setting in, it is mostly cloudy with drizzles and there is that nip in the air. Makes you want to wind down, cuddle up with the family, read, play board games, leave the curtains open and let the dull light stream into your home. I love something about this whole thing - it makes me feel at peace, being at peace makes me feel happy, being happy means only one thing - a heart full of love. And you will never hear me complain about that.

As I see the drizzles and the rains from my window, I am reminded of the monsoons in the Ghats that we enjoyed completely. Our visit to Koppa in Chikkamagalur district a month ago gave us the opportunity to experience the monsoons in the Western Ghats. While it was nearing the end of the monsoon season, we didnt see it in all its glory, but experienced some of it to get a sense of it. The weirdest thing was it would start pouring like somebody up there opened a tap and then stop like somebody up there closed the tap too. We stayed at this lovely home-stay with its beautiful courtyard. When it rained, sitting and watching the rain in the courtyard was almost meditative. The kids loved the rains too - they were out and about with the umbrellas and enjoyed the clear water all around.

Chitra Aiyer - Rain dripping from the tiled roof

Seeing the rain drip from the tiled roofs always reminds me of rains in my native ancestral grandparent-homes in Kerala (this pic on flickr). However, I have never really experienced the monsoons in Kerala, having never been there in that season because of school in Bangalore. The dripping rain water from the roofs also forms these little pools of water you see in the pic below.

A row of little bowls with spurting pearly water drops.

Chitra Aiyer - Rain puddles from the tiled roof

We did many drives in these pours. Windshields awash with the mountain rains, all rivulets flowing with roaring waters, the Ghats saturated with the color green, and all the Ghat people going about their business under cover …. literally. One thing you always notice is how you never find anybody having weight issues in the Ghats … well, how can they? They are always navigating the terrains on foot or cycles,  sometimes navigating the mountains through short cuts that run steep; and that needs burning of calories to maneuver.

Chitra Aiyer - Rain or Shine ..

Here’s an elderly gentleman going about his day

Chitra Aiyer - Rains through the wind shield

The beautiful landscape, washed, scrubbed and in its green glory through the pouring rain on the windshield.

The little Ghat towns are all vernacular in their cuteness. The architectural scale is very human, the building materials are local/traditional, and the people warm. And the coconut trees are never out of the frame. Again, all of it reminds me a lot of my childhood vacations spent in remote corners of Kerala.
Chitra Aiyer - Rains in a little Ghat town

As we left the Ghats behind, I clicked this couple in the rains, from the car.  The elderly man and the little boy - each under his own umbrella, walking on the main road of their little town, chatting away, almost oblivious to the surrounds. This shot is one of my best - I love it for a variety of reasons - the camaraderie, the rains, the moment, and for what I felt when I looked at the LCD after. I hope you like it too.

Chitra Aiyer - Under the umbrella conversations

PS: I get only a few moments at a stretch. I have had to stop so many times while writing this post. It is a luxury to get an entire chunk of time to sit and write what I want to write - I dont have that luxury … and that is ok. I still loved writing this, I love the rains outside as I type this, I love the family that surrounds me, I love having had to get up as many times as I have had to for them. Everything about now is beautiful and I am thankful …

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All pics used here are mine. Please do not use without permission.

Review - Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Children’s Book

One of the things I have been wanting to write is reviews for children’s books. I do my best to try and introduce my kids to a variety of books. I have always enjoyed reading myself, but as an adult, I have at best struggled to keep at it. I dont know why that is. Almost because of that struggle, I try and do a decent job of reading with the kids. Hopefully, they will stay with the habit for a long time to come.

As parents, I think, one of the biggest gifts we can give our children is to introduce them to ‘words’ …. and to lots of them - to help them express themselves. The more words you know, the better you can articulate your emotions, your  ideas, your situations. While being better articulated will help you get across a thought to the next person, it will also help you communicate with yourself better is what I have always believed.

Anyway, coming back to starting off writing reviews, this is November and in India, we celebrate children’s day on 14th Nov. I figured now is as good as it can get to start writing children book reviews. Here, I pick the first book - Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day  by Judith Viorst.


Chitra Aiyer - Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

While this is a children’s book written for ages 5-9, it really is for everybody. It was first published in 1972, the story however is timeless.

“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” is how the book starts. You can imagine how the rest of it is going to go. Everything in Alexander’s entire day goes horribly, horribly wrong - from not getting a window seat on the way to school to his teacher not liking his blank sheet of paper for artwork - which he calls the invisible castle, to being reduced to a 3rd best friend, to finding out he has a cavity while on a dentist’s chair, to getting hurt, pushed, being called a crybaby …. the list goes on. The day even ends badly with him getting to wear the pajama set that he hates and the family cat choosing to sleep with his brother! He is convinced about moving to Australia. The story ends with his mom telling him that things are going to pretty much be the same down under as well …. and that’s it.

I dont even need to teach this lesson to the kids, I can simply keep learning it over and over again myself :) … the reason why I think it is a great book for anybody. My 4+ year old doesnt really get the book. He just finds the events and the wordings funny. My 6+ year old daughter wasnt too sure she got it either, until we went over it a few times, drawing parallels with our own lives.

Judith Viorst has done well painting the picture of Alexander’s temperament, and Ray Cruz’s illustrations do complete justice too. My children prefer colorful illustrations, and here it is a black and white affair. However, I was able to get my older one to appreciate the detailed renderings of this book. 

My children are still too young for the funda of the story. However, they really liked the rhythmic repeat of the book’s title on every page and the funny turn of the sucky events.

This book has been adapted for TV and theatre. Read more about the book on Wiki.

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Incidentally, the Bangalore Book Festival is starting this weekend - From Nov 6th at Palace Grounds.