2013: Summary & Statistics

Happy New Year everyone. The WordPress.com stats helper vampire bats prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,300 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Two other blogs were started: http://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/ and http://divineepic.wordpress.com/

Click here to see the complete report.

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74. Myth with a Dam

@Bhoothathankettu, Kerala, India.

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The story of Bhoothathankettu doesn’t begin nor end with our last trip to the place, a journey which happened about an year ago. It goes back to that childhood when Bhoothathankettu used to be one of the favourite tourist spots which we visited more than once, due to its easy accessiblity. It is just about ten kilometres away from the town of Kothamangalam and fifty kilometres away from the main city of Kochi. There was also the easy access from Perumbavoor, Angamaly and Aluva. It was still distant enough at that time, but closer than the rest. For some reasons, it had occupied the top of our most interesting places and the place which we should visit again and again. It used to be a place close to the heart. In the beginning, it was a small world and the travel restrictions were rightly there. Still, no matter how far we travelled, the significance of the place remained the same. So the place can claim to be the pioneer of the Travel Diaries of this world and beyond, not in an official manner, but as belonging to the mysterious ways the world works to halt a traveller and to make him go for a journey which is least expected by himself and the society.

Therefore, it has a powerful nostalgia associated with it for us. It was more like a satellite, a natural one which surrounded our world. It was our Saturn’s Titan or Jupiter’s Callisto, for that being Earth would be too predictable. We made some good visits there with Kothamangalam as the base, but the visits faded away until three visits were made in the last six years, not bad for a time when exploring new areas was the trend for one half, and watching movies later replaced the same. The first of the three visits was the reclaiming of childhood without knowing it, the second one being the same thing knowing it all, and the third one was the journey for the camera which was still not a planned one, the most spontaneous of them all, as if the forces of nature had a direct involvement in an unstoppable procedure. There is always more than what meets the eye as long as such a place is concerned, and we were the adventurers at times. The place is blemished in its history with only one accident, as on 20th February 2007, eighteen people on a school excursion drowned in Periyar at Thattekkad, not that far away from the location of the dam.

Along with the dam which stands there, there are huge blocks of unshaped stones are placed on both sides of the river Periyar, making it look like a natural dam built by some supernatural force. The name Bhoothathankettu, means “ghost fort”, “demon fort” or “monster fort”, not with a clear translation, as “bhootham” or “bhoothathan” can mean more than one thing, and the difference in traditions would make it almost impossible to make a perfect translation, and only transcreation is possible. The presence of something supernatural has to be attributed to the myths, which doesn’t really make an impact these days. The ghosts have become more and more gentle and friendly. But the name of the place does give a kick to the curiosity of the common man who hear about it for the first time. The rest has to be experienced in person. We feel the supernatural almost every day, but that still won’t tickle our reasoning ability even by an inch. We feel it in thunder, lightning, rain and everything we see each and every moment, but we fail to recognize them. So wretched is our state, as we feel them all, but fails to know that we feel; the touch of the other world hardly affects us, as we are so much attached to the scientific methods that we deny the existence of those souls.

In the world of Twilight vampires and all the good-looking monsters who keep on attaining more and more transformations towards the side of beauty, the interest might keep rising higher and higher. But what kind of interest would that be, when the creatures of darkness are no longer of their quality, and sometimes not even grey? Ultimately, that really shouldn’t count, whatever they say. As the curiosity doesn’t kill most of the cats these days, there is not that much worry associated with it. The lack of fear and the glorification as well as the beautification of the supernatural has done more bad than good in a world of confused people. The twists of fate happen just too often, and there is none when you need them. One has to wonder what is in them, but there is no right answer, as it is not something which should have happened, even as there might have been some predictions already. There are moments when one wishes for death, but this is not one of them, for this is just pleasure-seeking even in the most dreaded monsters of the world.

Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary and the Idamalayar Dam are also quite close to Bhoothathankettu. The bird sanctuary is actually quite close, and just a turn is necessary on the way back to Kothamangalam. It has a rich collection of birdlife and is a common tourist attraction even as it pales in comparison to Bhoothathankettu which has a high number of visitors on the holidays, both from inside and outside the state. A day trip to all three places; Thattekkad, Bhoothathankettu and Idamalayar is also a usual thing. Bhoothathankettu surely is good enough to be one of the most visited places in Ernakulam district as well as in Kerala – it is just not publicized enough. This has been more due to the lack of infrastructure as well as the absence of advertisements. But the situation has been getting better. Sometimes, its peace and tranquility is all that you need to make one visit. The fort of the demons is not the place you associated these qualities with. But who can deny such a thing when one has experienced this peace? Even if the demons had come back to haunt us, there is still enough in this little world to keep one interested.

It is a very scenic place right from the beginning, from the first step you take into the beauty of that place. You can walk on the side of the dam, not just on the dam. The walk with water flowing on the side, will refresh one faster than ever – free from the troubles of city life, work or student life. There is plain nature at its best, without too much interference from the humans. If it is not the weekend, this might be the perfect place to escape to. There are times when one fails to find the right place to escape into nature. But this might just work for most of the people. The sights of the hills and the greenery far away might even inspire one to explore more. There is also a park to support the whole thing, and it has been there as long back as I can remember it. There might have surely been changes made, and add-ons giving support, but the base thing has been there for a very long time. There should be enough entertainment for the children, and a good view of the dam is also possible from a point there. On the other side, there is the boating facility, and also the “erumadam” or the treehouses which are common at the tourist areas of Kerala. There is a good view from the top of it, and the beauty of the area is to be viewed from that point. It gets even better with the rain. Therefore, I wish you the moment.

Diving out —>

TeNy

70. Thank You Ceylon

@Katunayake, Western Province, Sri Lanka.

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Officially, Katunayake was the place where were I first set foot on Sri Lankan soil, as it is where Bandaranaike International Airport or the Colombo Airport is situated. Even as I couldn’t really consider it apart from Negombo or even Colombo during my visit, its significance is of a higher plane. The provider of the primary international air gateway to the beautiful island shall not go unattended in my blog, especially at a time when I could recollect the need to thank the island which proved to be an experience which brought the change and set my mood back to something readable. Wordsworth felt poetry was “the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions recollected in tranquility”; and I would feel the same in its absence in verses, but I would rather not question its existence as Ceylon, for it was that inspiring poetry of my Dark Ages; which set the pace for a number of journeys which came later, the most significant one being that long walk through England and Scotland; with the rime of this traveller who belonged neither to modernity nor to the legends of the ancient world. The same thing would be recollected in Lake District in the same year, but just to be forgotten and to be remembered now. For that, thank you Katunayake, for being the land which welcomed me to that world.

From here, this story takes that not-so-wrong turn. Before that, this journey is to be explained on the basis of one major thing. To support the same, this is what I found on google after searching for news on that particular day, the day I could have died, but still remained quite far away from its messenger. “On 26 July 2010, Kingfisher Airlines Flight IT 2482, detected smoke. Leakage from packets of boric acid powder & liquid detergent, packed together, resulted in the chemical reactions causing heavy smoke. It was found that there was a security lapse among the cargo security staff. There were 36 passengers on board”. Going further deep, I would say that this might have been a sign of the Grim Reaper who was absent throughout my visit later though. I could feel the delay on that day and the world outside was looking a little foggy from the inside of the flight, but this was not a thing I expected even with all those Gothic stuff in the mind – may be only supernatural could have evoked that feeling, for death was so natural; Louis de Pointe du Lac wished for it in “Interview With the Vampire”, and he got more than what he wished for – that was supernatural. In my case, there was nothing of both type; neither natural or supernatural was happening in my life, and it could not be more dead – there was no life at all. What was there for Sir Death to take? That would be a serious question if asked to Death in a quiz.

What would have Death gained by taking me then? My failures and my confusion were there for him to take; but what would he do with it? He surely can’t eat them; neither can he claim them as his own – if he was Johny Blaze and could do a worthlessness stare instead of a penance stare, he would have been the world’s most depressed supernatural agent. He might have known that and he should have surely known that I never really cared at time and I wasn’t really afraid of his power of the undesired dimension. That would have been what caused a change of mind in him; for he might have looking for souls which had something in them, a power which might be equivalent to the nuclear energy in this world – mine was just too dull; depressing enough to take the hope out of the most optimistic Dark Knight of Gotham City. I had felt in life more like a crocodile in Jurassic Park or a dinosaur in the Lake Placid, not really supposed to be at both places, and I do wonder what Death would have felt with such a feeling. Then how would Death make the living dead? What would happen to a world with no death? May be they would turn directly into the undead and Resident Evil series would never end. Then all the zombies will turn into pale Twilight vampires and go to school for Plus Two, or graduate multiple times for Vampirology or Vampire Studies (future possible courses). In India, they would choose Mawsynram or Cherrapunji as home with a holiday trip to Kerala during monsoon. If it is still not enough, there would be the Himalayas and the other mountain ranges.

But as I would hate such a thing to happen, I would hope for the end of such a craze which perverts the Vampire Legend, and I would never say “Welcome to India, nice to meet you”, and on this, one got to be on Death’s side. So there has been enough talk about Death, and less about life, and moving towards positive side of hope, belief and faith, there is the fact that this thing was not found out when the flight was in the air, might be more of a sign of the fact that the opposites are already at work. Thus reaching Sri Lanka itself was by God’s grace; it was not just any journey, it was spiritual; it had only the best of intentions and thus it had to go right. From the moment I saw the Lord Buddha statue in the airport, I wondered if this sojourn would have anything other than spirituality in the list. In case someone is wondering if this was a Final Destination moment, I would have to disagree as I am still alive after two years with the only loss being that of hair. If asked about the other people in the flight, I don’t know – I knew the name of most of the travellers, and nothing more; how they might have seen it is also another thing I might never know, they were all elder people of good spirits, that I know; all of them between the age of fifty and eighty from what my eyes told me, and this list surely doesn’t include the airplane staff.

My thanks to Sri Lanka is not just on these thoughts on air; that was just the sign for the beginning. I have to say that I never felt away from home in Sri Lanka. It was another nation about which I was aware of, and it was surely not a carbon copy. But there was so much of Kerala throughout. There were many moments when I felt not away from home and instead I felt at home, and I felt good. I felt the three thousand years of Sri Lankan history, not as documented, but as part of my own land’s history. I felt I was part of that spirituality; I visited not only churches and Hindu temples, but also the Buddhist temples, and could find the time to talk to a few Buddhist monks. That was also a first time for me, even as I could have found the opportunity to do the same with a visit to Dharamsala, Bodh Gaya or Kushalnagar, all three of these places I knew about and wished to go, but never really did. This might come back to me if I make a visit to these places or to Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand and Nepal all of which I have listed in my future destinations, but about which I can only have an unclear picture. For now, Ceylon has given me what was needed, even if a hundred people might have suggested to me that I never knew what I wanted. If they wonder so, that is a strange thing indeed.

I was officially introduced to Buddhism at Ceylon, and it is an experience which I would go through once again, and this one thing I assure myself. To add to it, I was there in that nation which is the world’s third or fourth largest producer of tea and the second largest exporter of the same. There was tea and there was spirituality, and how they are related, is more of a thing of the soul. I have had a refreshing experience with both there, and even if I would find no specific incident suitable to explain it, the whole thing was complete with these two. Ceylon’s combination of both had made an everlasting mixture, which created another world, strengthened by the tea’s fountain of youth and supported by the spirituality which powered the mind. The pure Ceylon tea bought from Sri Lanka enriched the life for almost an year, and the feeling of being abroad and being at home – that time of having both spiritual and physical unity; I felt it; I felt it in the food, I felt it in the climate, I felt it in the world which was far away, but still too close to the heart. For the first time, I was more than the hopeless me; that sparked a beginning, with the desire not to be back in India that quick, but with the need to start living according to the soul. For that, thank you Ceylon; for those days were few, but they were surely worth it. As I left Katunayake, I remembered that I am not Arnold Schwarzenegger, but still, there was something I know and I still know the same, that I will be back – and then, I will be back again multiple times.

Diving out —>

TeNy