Sunday, August 20, 2006

'ventures; installment the first

And the past couple of weeks have been glorious.
Let us start with last weekend, shall we?

Saturday and Sunday; 12th and 13th August 2006
(also a bit of Monday; 14th August 2006)

Bandipur was to have been a two day trip. The aforementioned persons were to assemble in their respective abodes, and we were to set off from our personal residence as soon as the bus we'd ordered got there. Alas for good intentions. The one day that every member of my family was ready prior to the agreed time, the transport was late. Instead of six in the morning, we didn't leave until well past seven. The bus itself was a joy; plush sets, twenty two of them for twelve people, a wonderful music system, a passably competent driver. Once we'd loaded everything onto the bus, with a commendable record of going back for forgotten items only twice, we were on our way.
Stopped first at the house of uncle the first. Two members joined us; my dad's sister and my 20-year-old male cousin. We were, as an additional bonus, also treated to a pithy recollection of my uncle's comments on female tardiness. grrrr. Luckily, my aunt hadn't subscribed to those views, and so the journey to residence no. 3 on the list passed very pleasantly. There we picked up not only my dad's other two siblings and their spouses, but also a 13-year-old cousin and a 76-year-old grandmother. By eight in the morning, we were on Airport Road; with all twelve passengers, all their luggage, seven assorted bags and boxes of food-related items, numerous cushions and a grand spirit of adventure!
Being the Tam Brahm family we are, it was perhaps not more than twenty or thirty minutes into the journey before the four females of the family ensconced themselves in the back of the bus, and mooli parathas were being passed forward, topped with the most delectable kothamalli (coriander leaves, that is) chutney to ever grace the taste buds. (it was a brand new bottle, and it was empty by the time we got back to civilization. you do the math). Soon after each of us had had at least two, my cousin had had three and my sister five (really. the girl eats like a horse), it was time for hot tea and biscuits. Let a gentle veil be drawn over the procedure as far as my sibling and I were concerned. Suffice it to say that dire predictions to deflect misfortune misfired by coming out perfectly true, and that not a few paper napkins and towels were put to good use.
It was time, then, for music. My sister had put together two CDs (yes! modern conveyance, played MP3 CDs and no cassettes, which none of the other relatives had known, which in simple terms meant that my sister and I had the ordering of music to our taste entirely, so (to borrow a phrase) yay!) thoughtfully placing on one all the modern rock we'd been listening to of late, and on the other all the music the three old IITians would jive to. We started with the second, and soon The Beatles were crooning away, interspersed with Nick Drake. No one was happy. The player had to be advanced to the next song each time, and the remote could never be found at the crucial moment; so that we heard Norwegian Wood four times running before it dawned on us. We proceeded, then, to the Beach Boys (yes, I'll have to have a little chat with the sister sometime) and idlis with four different types of accompaniments.
The rest of the trip (yes, or I'll be dredging up every last detail) was spent in singing, and talking. We played antakshari for almost two hours; two aunts, an uncle, my mother and I, and once again I felt incredibly glad to have such fascinating people in my family. The antakshari moved on to just plain singing; then to the inevitable pop backlash, in which all four cousins took part enthusiastically.
The last leg of the journey was Simon and Garfunkel and Jethro Tull and Jimi Hendrix and CSNY. And everyone sang along, all off tune. And I heard about how two classmates of my uncle performed the entire Suite Judy Blue Eyes at a Mardi Gras many years ago. And how a person "played" the guitar riff on Ohio just with his mouth. And I learnt how to distinguish Steven Stills from Graham Nash. And I learnt to really really wish I'd lived then, oh *heap big sigh*.

We got to the Jungle lodge at around two, checked in and then had lunch.
Went for a safari that evening at five. Played card games at night. Read Pratchett. Talked. Walked. Sang. Wrote.
Night walks among deer. Morning walks with deer. Games in the garden. Four corners with all adults running. Climbing trees. Breathtaking scenery. Heartbreaking silences. Hot tea. Good food. Fabulous weather. Amazing air. Congenial company.
One heck of a vacation.

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