Nov 30, 2017

Hampi 3

The sky is overcast. The rain drizzles, intensifies and drops off never to stop completely. Cyclone Ockhi is knocking at our doors, felling trees and flipping umbrellas. The power comes and goes.

But I am an Aquarian and am nothing if not contrary. 😀 After filling my water tank till it overflowed - will last us for two days - then charging emergency lights, making sure we have candles and charging the power bank, I am now settled with a hot cuppa. Now let me take you to sunny Hampi where we had left off seeing the grandeur of the past that has been preserved in their half-damaged glory.

We took the long route across the bridge to Anegundi, on the northern side of the Tungabhadra. It's no wonder that Hampi and the surrounding area is famous among rock-climbing and hiking enthusiasts. The place is simply littered with rocks of all shapes and sizes, as though some ancient giant kids had played with them and left them scattered all over the landscape (Why didn't their Mom insist on tidying up their toys?). In fact, the legend goes that this was the land of the Vanaras and Sugreeva, Hanuman and their friends are responsible for the giant stacks of stones.



But at least the humans who came afterwards have made good use of the space left amid the rocks...


In fact the place, if tidied up of the rocks, would look like yesteryear Kerala - with paddy, plantain and sugarcane fields interspersed with tall coconut trees. 

And some little extras thrown in Hampi style:


DH and the kids braved the steep climb up the Anjanadri to visit the Hanuman temple - which they told me was exactly 575 steps high. I wandered around the base of hill and cooled myself off with water and juice. 

The pictures they brought back looked interesting, but not enough to tempt me...


From the top...


The boys hadn't cooled off or regained their energy by the time we reached Sanapur lake and saw the coracles...


But by then we were too famished to attempt any more adventures, so we went to the largely undeveloped (read no tarred roads) "hippie area" to find a restaurant. On the way was another magnificent reminder of the great empire...


Remnants of a bridge across the mighty Tungabhadra... The river has been tamed for quite a while now. And it is she who is responsible for the greenery that greets your eyes everywhere. The locals told me that even in the worst of summers, the dam provides them with enough water for their needs. Once numbered among the natural protectors of Hampi from the northern marauders, the river still bestows her riches in the land she flows through...

After a bumpy ride, we reached the restaurant. (If you are a non-vegetarian, you have to cross the river to get anything to eat. No one cooks meat or fish South of the river. There are only vegetarian restaurants in Hampi.) We were greeted by a clowder of cats (yup, that is what a group of cats is called, I checked!) having their lunch...


Talk about inbreeding!!! Soon we relaxed to the views of the old capital across the river...

 

In the end, at least there was the good view, for neither the food nor the price was satisfactory. 


Nope, HE wasn't laughing, I checked! 😉😉😉 We will bid a fond goodbye to Hampi here!

I don't know if it is an effect of the cyclonic storm, but it has taken me almost two hours to complete this post because the picture uploading was too slow. Already there are reports of 80+ fishermen missing. They went out to sea yesterday evening and haven't returned. Praying for them and their families. 🙏 

Relatives and friends are calling in from time to time to see if we are okay. We are, for now. See you all again next week!

Nov 16, 2017

Yaay! She finished it!!!!

We interrupt the regularly scheduled program to bring you a story of triumph that is likely to get your heart to speed up and your eyes to tear up! 

At the heart of the story is a crafter who loves all craft and hoards supplies, but has a massive case of nonstartitis and procrastination. This May, she overhauled her craft room and in the process, unearthed an Anchor needlework kit that she had bought around... oh just 4 years ago? The autumnal colors had piqued her interest, but the kit had soon been interred in the pile that was in one of her craft cupboards. 



The crafter is inordinately fond of small projects that can be finished in a day or two. She had never been successful with a long haul that would need patient, incremental work day after day. "This time I'm gonna change that," she vowed as she had done several times before. I don't think she believed it herself because somewhere in her mother-in-law's house is a half-finished little doggie that was way more simple to stitch.

Anyway, she brought it down to her writing table and put it in a drawer, adding a pair of scissors to the kit. And as the room painting wound up, she tore open the box, and ignoring the recommended order of completing different colors, started with her favorite color red.


That was it for the first day. She found that it was easier to mark off the areas to be filled by a particular color with a pen so that she knew where to start the next day. She also, not very hopefully, decided to take a picture of each day's progress so that she could look back at it with pride one day - however far in future that would be... perhaps in the company of grandkids?

And then slowly the picture began to grow...



She set a goal of using up a particular length of thread that she was using that day, which took her roughly an hour. She tried to do it five days a week. Sometimes she succeeded, sometimes she didn't. But as a couple of months passed, she found the canvas buckling a bit - no doubt due to uneven thread tension.

Our crafty crafter checked YouTube for a solution because she couldn't put the whole work into an embroidery hoop. After a weekend visit to the local hardware shop for supplies she made this in half an hour! 


Yes, a lap frame! From PVC pipe! And she didn't let her usual process of finding a hundred obstacles in her head to make such a thing stop her. She did all the measuring, sawing and fixing herself! Making snap-on PVC attachments daunted her, so she decided to attach the project to the frame with thread. She also found black cobbler's thread a better option than ordinary sewing thread. Don't ask how she happened to have cobbler's thread in her stash...just take it for granted!


Housework, travel, fatigue and illness interfered with the progress of the project. But she left it in sight on the unused end of the dining table, shrouded in an old towel to keep away the dust. Her eyes fell on it each time she passed through and it even drew her eyes to it when she curled up with a book on the sofa.


Even though she was still taking daily photos, the work left to do often overwhelmed her. In the little places it was difficult to make out where the markings for one color ended. Sometimes the patches in the picture didn't match those on the canvas. Sometimes the colors seemed too garish for her taste - perhaps she would have liked an autumn scene in pastels? She gritted her teeth and went on...


Uh oh! She ran out of dark blue thread for the water! No doubt it was because she was ignoring the instruction to finish each patch of color, snip the thread and then start in the next patch. She just dragged the thread on to the next patch. When she looked at the thread list, she saw that she had completed more than half the colors... That was good! 

Making a note of the shade she would need to finish the dark blue patches, she left them bare and went on with the other colors...


She even became bold enough to use long and short stitch when the kit admonished her to use only long stitches... Take a close look at the light yellow in the sky...


Meanwhile she bought a new skein of the dark blue. But nearing the end she kept finding tiny little patches she had missed out on when using another color. So each day before threading the usual length of thread for the next day, she snipped off little lengths of other colors to fill in those patches.

And last week she suddenly realized that she was down to the last color - white! Energized by the finding, she put in unheard-of double sessions for a day or two until day before yesterday, the last white stitch was made and a frantic search for any more bare patches of canvas ensued.... Then our crafter, forgetting her advanced years and the fact that she had only recently recovered from a bout of dengue, executed a few war whoops and danced around the dining table.


It had taken her just 3 days short of six months to complete! 

She asked me not to show you the next picture, but I think it will be good for her perfectionism. As I told her repeatedly, her work is not going to be submitted for a needlework competition to need an immaculate backside...


Readers, she is cringing with embarrassment. You will be happy to know that she was so chuffed by her accomplishment that she went straight to her craft stash and pulled out a quarter-finished project that she has had... oh only since 2006...


She started on the yellow flowers and realized why she had put it away years ago - the motifs are tiny and the stitches proportionately so. It makes her go cross-eyed even in  broad daylight. So she has decided to complete the current bird, and save the rest of the Aida cloth for some other freehand project.

But true to form, she has her sights trained on some drool-worthy counted cross stitch on Amazon since Anchor doesn't make them...


and this...


Happily what with exchange rates and import duties, they are currently out of her budget. So, with a sigh she has dismantled her PVC frame and put it away for the next project. Let us look forward to the framed Perfect Paradise and the two completed birds in their own gilded frames.

The crafter's name has not been mentioned because she wishes to remain anonymous...

Nov 10, 2017

Hampi 2

Why did it take me so long to get from Hampi 1 to 2? On the way I got attacked by a teeny mosquito and got dengue fever. Thus I have attained a hat trick in fevers this year, falling prey to viral fever, chest infection and dengue all in the space of 6 months. I must say from the expert's point of view that the dengue is the worst of all - it is making itself felt even after three weeks in the form of easily tiring, getting headaches when tired and aches and pains all over. I avoid going out as much as I can to stave off fatigue and further infections.

On to happier things:

Here is a bird's eye view of the royal enclosure at Hampi


The palaces built of brick and wood were destroyed and all that are left of them are the stone foundations and whatever was made from stone. And the ornamentation left on those plinths are enough to make us salivate thinking of the palaces as they had been...


Just look at the detail...



The grounds have a huge step-well...

A cute but scary underground passage that leads to a currently roofless chamber... I am still not certain whether Ani was clinging to my hand or I was clinging to his...


 We moved on to the Zenana quarters which had slightly more enduring structures. Like this one...


...presumably an overgrown gazebo for the ladies to relax in if they found the palace too confining!...


... even the "simple" gazebo has detailing like this over the arches...

And then to take your breath away, the elephant stables...


Do note that the domes on top are all in different shapes. If they'd lavished so much care and design diversity on the quarters of their tuskers, what would their palaces have been like...

Another notable structure is the Queen's bath... though I have no idea why it should be so far away from their living quarters...


It's all dry and prosaic now, but we humans have enough imagination to return the poetry to it, don't we?


There was an "underground" Siva temple where the royal family took spiritual retreats from time to time... but the place stank so much of bat guano that Ani refused to go into it, indeed it was a gloomy place...


Didn't I tell you last time that the landscape is dotted with old, unmarked monuments? Here is something that you might miss because they are found on the way side with no markers...


These depressions in stone - no two are alike - served as ready-made plates for the soldiers' daily meals and they stretch off in two rows for 300 meters into the countryside now, who knows how many there originally used to be?


That is all for the royal grandeur of the Vijayanagara empire's capital, but if you think that is all that Hampi is, you would be mistaken. I'll take you around Hampi the next time and you can see for yourself!

How to bring back the green...

Back in 2007, when we bought the land for Karthi, it looked like this... There were coconut trees that looked tired, a few jack fr...