Thursday, 21 February 2008

Divine Devbagh ... Kaptivating Karwar

Our trip to Karwar was in the first week of December, 2007. Karwar is a small town in North-coastal Karnataka, about 300 kms from Mangalore & about 100 kms from Goa. To reach Karwar from Bangalore, we travelled by the Rani Chennamma Express and got down at Hubli. From Hubli you can hire a car or take the bus to go to Karwar. We had booked ourselves a place at the Devbagh Island Beach resort (a Jungle Lodges & Resorts property). After reaching Karwar, we reported at the forest office & they took us to the boat jetty from where we were taken to this island resort by a motorboat. On reaching the island we were taken by eco-friendly cars to the reception which is basically a loghut. We had booked a loghut for ourselves at the resort, to which we were taken soon after we checked in.

The view of the place that we got by the time we checked in was just great & our hearts pulled us towards the sea. But we were told that we had to go for lunch soon and then there were some water sports. So we freshened up and after a really sumptuous lunch, I lolled around on the hammock (oh yes, every hut has it’s personal hammock) with a P.J. Wodehouse in hand… read some, dreamed some – with eyes open & closed, while S went for a walk by the sea & played badminton with some other guests at the resort. :-)

3.30 p.m. we went for the water sports. There are quite a few options like kayaking, water-biking, motor boating and then there’s the banana boat. The banana boat looked like a lot of fun & a little scary too. It is basically a huge banana-shaped float on top of which people are made to sit. Then this float is pulled by a motor boat to some way down into the sea & the riders are dumped into the waters … of course, with their safety suits on. They are then helped back onto the float & brought back to shore. No, we didn’t go for a banana-boat ride but we did do some kayaking … which was really tough work, I tell you & then headed to the beach for a swim. We also planned to go snorkeling, along with another couple (A&M) who were also interested in snorkeling, the next morning (provided the sea & weather conditions were good, we were told).

After a dip in the sea, it was time to freshen up & get ready for a barbecue by the beach. It was extremely relaxing to just sit by the sea with a nice cool wind blowing, eating barbecued fish & chatting with A&M. A&M are very interesting people. We came to know that A was getting transferred out of the country. So they packed up at his last posting (which was Delhi), sent the kids ahead to their hometown (somewhere in Kerala) & were taking the road down from Delhi to Kerala & stopping at whichever place took their fancy. S suggested that they should go to Gokarna too & we learnt later from M, by e-mail, that they loved the beach at Gokarna too, though Karwar really was their favourite.

Next morning there was a planned nature walk at 7.00 a.m. It turned out that everyone was tired after the festivities the night before & only S & I turned up for the nature walk. But it was really worth it !!! Our nature guide took us around the island showing us the different flora & some fauna on the island. We also went to the point where the Kali river meets the Arabian Sea. After an hour long walk, we returned for breakfast, and also got to know from A&M that are snorkeling plans had been cancelled since the sea was very choppy. That was really sad but safety first & all that, so… We said goodbye to A&M & after breakfast went for a ride into the sea to see Dolphins. Well, yes it seems that the sea here has Dolphins too !!! And we did get to see a few, albeit fins only.

Now it was time for us to leave Devbagh Island & we did so with a longing to return. However our Karwar trip was hardly over. We went back to Karwar by boat where we visited the famous Rabindranath Tagore beach. It seems that when Tagore visited this place, he was so captivated by it that he wrote a poem dedicated to the place. Well, I would too, if I could … but Alas, I can’t write poetry. Karwar is also famous for its huge naval base & right on the Rabindranath Tagore beach is a War ship museum with a real ship kept on display. Sadly though, it was closed when we visited. So we took the bus back to Hubli from where we were scheduled to catch our train for Bangalore.

I can honestly say that this was my best and most relaxing holiday till date !!! Three cheers to Karwar & Devbagh Island Beach Resort.

  • When hiring a car from Hubli be careful about the rates that the driver is offering you. They just “forget” to mention that they will charge you for the roundtrip although you will be travelling just one-way.
  • The route from Hubli to Karwar, till the diversion towards Mangalore is also the route for trucks going towards Mangalore. So the trip takes longer than you might think.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Down memory lane ...

As the train chugged into the station at 4 a.m. on that cold December night, I got my first glimpse of Jamnagar. This was the place where I got my first job after completing my studies at Kolkata, a bustling city more than 2000 kms from Jamnagar. Jamnagar in comparison was just like a small town. For those of you who don’t know … Jamnagar is a small city in the Kutch region of Gujarat. I stayed & worked here for 3 years. I have many fond memories of Jamnagar … the company I worked with, the people I met there (at office & outside) and the food. :-) So, before I forget all about these things, I thought that I should put them down somewhere.

As I got out of the station, I found a driver waiting for me to take me to my apartment. I was taken to a two bedroom apartment which I had to share with another girl who was also on her training. Well, yes, as a GET or Graduate Engineer Trainee at this company (let me call it SR), we were provided quite comfortable accommodation. And when it’s your first job, I can assure you that such treatment makes one feel quite special. When I told a family friend about these arrangements, he commented “Are you joining as a GM of the company?” I don’t think that he quite believed me. :-)


Jamnagar had quite a few specialties when it came to the culinary department, like the home-made ice cream at Teenbatti in a shop called Ram Mandir (as far as I remember). The ice cream there was mmmmmeltilicious (melt-in-your-mouth-delicious) and extremely cheap too !!! Then there was the unlimited gujarati thali at the Brahmaniya. If any of you have ever tried an unlimited Gujarati thali then you would surely agree with me when I say that the Gujaratis stretch the “unlimited” to its limits. In fact your stomach is ready to burst after the first helping itself because of the immense variety of such a meal. And we also did enjoy the large variety of “snakes” (I mean, snacks) in offer like the khakhra, thepla, dhokla, khandvi and many more very delicious stuff. But of course, when in Jamnagar stick to authentic Gujarati food & don’t try to explore & never-ever try a Pizza there. When we felt like eating Pizzas, we used to make a weekend trip to Ahmedabad which is about 300 kms from Jamnagar.


Gujaratis in general are very amiable people, at least the ones I met in Jamnagar. The atmosphere at office was also very much like a big family, probably because we were in the project stage and the number of employees was not too large. My immediate superior, MP (M-bhai, we used to call him in the true Gujarati style) was a very nice man from whom I learnt quite a few important lessons both personally & professionally. VNS, our boss was a very mild mannered Malayali who was not just extremely accomplished technically but also a very nice person. When I was leaving Jamnagar, VNS drove me to the station himself & saw to it that I got a coolie who would put all my stuff on the train for me. See that’s what I mean by saying that we were like a family. I’ve not seen such personal care by superiors anywhere else that I’ve worked since.

The head of our department was an angry not-so-young man. You could call him Tiger because he would usually growl at people, whether in person or on the phone. His way of showing displeasure with someone was to throw down his spectacles on the table. People all over SR were scared of him even if he had no interaction with them. But he would be quite a different man outside the office … well, not really amiable, but nice. :-) I remember once during an office party, we were playing passing-the-parcel. He and his wife were the last two players & we (the ones controlling the music) cheated a little & made his wife win the game. It was fun to make him lose … at least once.

And then, of course, there were friends. We were a group of 40 who had joined the company at almost the same time, so there were loooots of friends. The movie, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam released when I was in Jamnagar & about 20 (or perhaps more) of us went to watch it together. I developed a few long lasting friendships during those years. I’m still in touch with them & so glad to be able to call them my friends.


Gujarat is a colorful place & nothing can portray it better than the variety of colors in their bandhni (tie-and-dye) dresses and sarees. If you are a fan of the cotton fabric like me, then there’s no better place to be than Gujarat & the shops at Jamnagar are not to be belittled at all in this aspect.

I had the fortune of visiting a lot of places in Gujarat & Rajasthan while I was in Jamnagar. One of the first places that we friends went to was Diu, a very beautiful sea beach. While in Jamnagar, I also visited the temples of Dwarka & Somnath, the Gir forest and of course, Ahmedabad where we used to mostly go for shopping and to eat Pizza. :-) My friend, Sh & I visited the beautiful hill station of Mt. Abu in Rajasthan on the day that Gujarat was struck by the earthquake in 2001. While in Jamnagar, I also made trips to the beautiful palace city of Udaipur & the forts at Chittorgarh in Rajasthan. The memory of these beautiful places I still carry with me in my heart & in photo albums.


I left Jamnagar for Mumbai in Dec 2001 for a new job. I wouldn’t be truthful if I said that I was sad to leave Jamnagar. I was in fact glad to leave because most of my friends there had, by that time, moved to greener pastures elsewhere. Also after 3 years in Jamnagar, I was looking forward to the hustle-bustle of a huge metropolis like Mumbai. But I surely do carry with me many fond memories of Jamnagar.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

A tribute to Kolkata ... a pic blog

The pied-piper of Kolkata...

The serene Belur Math from across the Hooghly river...

O majhi re...