Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ghonchu drives a car

Ghonchu proudly stood outside his new (old) car and got his photo clicked. And then came the hard part. He sat in his car and attempted to drive it.

He turned the key and his car sputtered to life, “Vroooom”. He prayed for blessings and then put his left foot on the clutch. His hand shook unsteadily while putting the car in first gear.

His right foot pressed the accelerator as Teachu, his instructor had taught him. Press the accelerator and release the clutch gently, he knew. He tried doing just that.

Dhoop!” The car stopped with a jerk.
Ghonchu looked sheepishly at Teachu sitting next to him. Teachu encouraged him calmly, “Don’t worry! This was bound to happen the first time. Try again.”

The car roared to life again. “Vroooom”.

“Press the accelerator and release the clutch gently”, Ghonchu repeated in monotone as though memorizing the words. He pressed the accelerator ever so slightly and as gently as a falling leaf, released his foot off the clutch.
Dhoop!” The car reacted the same way as the last time.

Perspiring, Ghonchu tried again. Teachu maintained a stoic silence looking dead straight. Ghonchu remembered the words, “Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” He mentally replaced them with “Why do we stop? So that we can learn to start.

Teachu advised, “give more race (press the accelerator more)”.

Ghonchu did as suggested. “Vroooom” said his car again on turning on the ignition. But it kept silent on pressing the accelerator. Timid as a rabbit, Ghonchu whispered in anguish to his teacher, “the accelerator is not working!”

Teachu, then for the first time looked carefully at Ghonchu’s feet, sighed as a coach whose pupil had thoroughly disappointed him and looked straight ahead.

“The brake is the one in the middle, and accelerator is the one on the right.”

Mortified, and with his face as red as a ripe tomato, Ghonchu corrected his feet position and tried again. The accelerator roared this time, “vroom, vroom, vroooooooom.”
Ghonchu exulted in delight as a naked Archimedes might have once done. The car began to move forward. In his delight, he had missed the passerby who was about to cross the road in front of him.

  • The accelerator screeched, “vroooom”.
  • The passerby screamed, “aaaaaaah”.
  • Ghonchu turned as white as a sheet. He screamed but no noise came out of his mouth. He had lost his powers of speech.
  • Teachu sharply brought the hand-brake into play.
  • The car stopped few inches before the passerby.

The passerby had turned into stone in the middle of the road. Ghonchu started trembling like an aspen leaf. Teachu mopped his brow.

The stone gradually returned to life and crossed the road mumbling a few obscenities which Ghonchu did not understand as they were in Telugu. Teachu added a few of his own which Ghonchu understood perfectly.

The aspen leaf realized he was sweating from all sorts of awkward places. His seat now needed drying. He relinquished control of the car to Teachu (who blissfully unaware sat in Ghonchu’s seat) for the remainder of the journey.


Enough time has elapsed. Ghonchu now understands the difference between brake and accelerator and is able to successfully drive his way around without hitting pedestrians.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A weekend trip: Hyderabad to Suryalanka beach

Suryalanka is a small town/village off the coast of Bay of Bengal and has the honour of being the nearest beach from the city of Hyderabad. Many people make a weekend trip to Suryalanka to enjoy being with the sea. Five of us chose to do just that in a Hyundai Verna on a weekend in September.

We left at 6am for Suryalanka stopping only at a small dhaba for breakfast. A large part of the route is NH with great roads (and divider) enabling us to make quick time. After reaching Vijayawada, it is SH where too the roads were in good condition. We caught some traffic while bypassing Vijayawada and Guntur; we eventually reached Bapatla and thereafter Suryalanka at 1pm. It took us seven hours to cover close to 400kms.

A chameleon, found on the way
Row of trees, on the way

The first sight of the sea and the enormous waves was exhilarating. There is not much else to do in that town other than spend time with the sea. Our stay was booked at Haritha Resorts, a government tourist accommodation provided in many cities in AP. To book online, use the following link. After having lunch and a short nap which is right next to the beach, we ventured out towards the sea in the evening.

The sea waves came crashing upon us time after time. We played frisbee and catch-ball in the sea with the waves thudding into us. Learning to swim and float were other activities attempted by some of us with little success and lots of fun.

There were other activities like going on a scooter boat that were available there but something that we did not attempt. Searching on the web seems to indicate presence of nearby dolphins if one goes searching by boat; but we were told that happens only in the month of November.

With night-fall, the beach emptied swiftly as there is no activity on the beach at night whilst it remains absolutely devoid of human activity with only the waves making roaring noises and thousands of crabs coming out of their dug-up holes in the sand.
A crab-hole
There is provision at the resort to make a bonfire as we saw another neighbouring group do the same. After having dinner (food was surprisingly good at the resort); we played cards and the like before dropping off.

The next day, we woke up at 5am early morning to catch a glimpse of the sunrise. The pale blue skies with the incoming dawn delighted us as we went on to the beach waiting for sunrise. To our disappointment it turned to be a cloudy morning, with the sun nowhere in sight.
We spent some time watching early morning fishermen getting ready to set their nets in the sea as the tackled the waves in their humble boats. We also saw lots of crabs going back into hiding as the human population grew on the beach.
Fishermen braving the waves, early morning
After breakfast and checkout (the resort’s check in/out timings are 10am to 9pm); we left back for Hyderabad. Stopping occasionally on the way for good scenery, a heavy lunch in Vijayawada; we made our way. We also faced torrential rain for a brief period after crossing Vijayawada. Eventually, exhausted but happy we reached Hyderabad back by evening capping our weekend trip.

[Photo credits: Raunak Pandya]


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The she-crab

The she-crab sensed the receding sun and the incoming night. The harshness of the day was gone. It was time!
She stepped out from her hole and cackled. The night was young and the evening breeze of the Bay of Bengal whished past her pincers. She paused and took in the breeze for some moments and looked around.

The humans were gone; some of the huge population of her neighbours was coming out for a tentative reconnaissance. Sensing that the beach was now theirs, scores and scores of her neighbours scuttled out. The sandy beach which lay plain suddenly transformed as though punctured. Holes of all shapes and sizes miraculously appeared in the hitherto unblemished sand as crabs poked their heads out of their lay.
Clack-clack-clickety-clack, went their pincers. They danced to the tune of the waves. The waves came across with full force of the high tide that night. The crabs scurried across in delight as the waves swept them to the shore and took them back in to the sea.

The few months old she-crab took in the atmosphere with a sense of wonder. She had only recently come ashore having spent her formative months in the sea. The giant things called humans were new to her and she was still getting used to the concept. The fact there was anything other than water in this world also took some getting used to.
Without the humans, and in the company of her own kind, she felt more secure. She took a few tentative steps across the sandy beach, sideways. One or two of her neighbours looked curiously in her direction. A new-comer, one who could be bullied, they concluded.

They came towards her trying to find out more. Her hole where she had stayed during the day was untenanted. The she-crab alarmed by the interest shown in her, rushed defensively back to her hole and buried herself up. The bullies paused, unsure what to do next. They lost interest and decided to focus on more pressing needs such as food.
After a certain lapse of time; slowly, with more caution, the she-crab poked her head out of her hole. Her stomach was rumbling. Making sure no one was paying any attention to her; she quietly observed her neighbours and their ways of catching food.

A small worm crawling near her abode caught her attention –a likely candidate for dinner. She hesitated, timid and unsure about leaving her abode. By the time she made up her mind to hunt the worm, it had vanished. She sat plaintively at the edge of her burrow taking in the activities of her fellow-crabs.  
Soon another worm presented itself to her as an opportunity. She made her way across before realizing she wasn’t the only one who had spotted the worm. Another of her neighbours was stalking the worm and he was closer to the potential prey. The she-crab’s stomach rumbled once more and she endeavoured to have her way. A feeling of competitiveness overcame her. Neither of the two crabs backed off as they proceeded in the direction of the worm. And then, it began!

The fight over the worm lasted a minute with other neighbours acting as curious though passive bystanders. Both attacked the other with their pincers. One blow after another was traded as they sparred brutally. However, the end came as swiftly as it began. One blow on the opponent’s pincers left him injured and he backed off. The worm was hers for the taking.
Sadly though, the worm had not stayed around to watch the conclusion of this sparring match. It had disappeared. The she-crab, not for the first time regretted her crab-like mentality.

However, the fight had not gone waste. She had earned the respect of her peers and could now stride confidently amongst the rest. She made swift progress - watching and learning with the others, digging into the sand and finding worms for her meal.
The waves continued to make roaring noises as it lashed the beach. She felt soothed in the music of the waves and the serenity of the moonlight. She had found her place in the clan and was now accepted.

Dawn was in the offing. It would soon be time to scuttle back into her hole before the humans polluted their space.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Peninsular Rock Agama

It took a bit of research to get the name of this beautiful multicolored lizard. This picture was taken with a humble digicam 3-4 weeks ago on the rocks of Khajaguda in Hyderabad.

There is a certain amount of elegance in its pose as it tilts its head.
The Peninsular Rock Agama