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The Changing House

Dubbed as the Scotland of India, Coorg (state of Karnataka, India) is a hill station 4000 feet above sea level, is also a paradise for adventure junkies. Forget for a moment that Coorg contributes to 30% of India’s coffee production. Its hills are perfect for adventure activities like trekking, rock climbing, biking and white water rafting. Yes, white water rafting we did at the river Cauveri.

August 7, 2012. They say it is the journey and not the destination that should be more enjoyed. What we remember most is rather the destination. When we completed the thrill, the organisers guided us to a small house by the river bank to have our clothes changed to fresh and dry ones. This family makes some extra money from allowing adventure seekers to use their modest toilets.

It was raining. As soon as some of us changed, the lady of the house brought us tea. The best tasting tea I should say. Freshly brewed tea, soothing aroma, the right amount of sugar, and plenty of love were the combinations that warmed our hearts. We took an instant liking to this modest and warmhearted family.

Muslims they were, we guessed from the lady’s headscarf. There were two kids inside, a girl and a young lad, who made brief and shy appearances, and greeted their ephemeral guests with even warmer smiles than their tea. Even more cautiously shy was the man of the house, who made fleeting appearances, like a bird testing its safety amidst strange visitors. We returned smiles and ‘Assalamualaikum’, and soon Mr. A.A. Mohamed came out into the verandah and offered his warm handshakes, albeit with timid reluctance. Soon enough we all became friends. We introduced ourselves and furnished everyone with our background and history.

Mr Mohammed’s family, who have come originally from the state of Kerala, have been living in this same house for 80 long years, and the house has been renovated three times ever since. Mohammed got married and lives in the same house that had sheltered three generations. He makes his income from the Autorikshaw that he rides. Sometimes a bountiful catch of fish from the river Cauveri also gives the family some financial relief. Overall, this was a happy family with limited wants and desires. They had the best thing in the world – Love.

We took photographs. Exchanged more smiles. We talked more.
I took down the postal address of the family. I would want to send them the photographs I took. Some years down the road, I like to visit this family, drink more warming tea, and take photographs.

My parting thoughts:  A simple meal with my family, a good book on a rainy day, a walk in the park, time with friends, playing with my kids, making tea for uninvited visitors; these are the things that are peaceful and fulfilling.  These are the things that bring joy, or as the French say, ‘joie de vivre’ (joy of life.)

Should you visit Coorg during the monsoon, take the rafting trip and alight for some warm tea and plenty of love at this address:
A.A. Mohamed
s/o B.K. Abdulla,
Balugod village,
Guddehosur P.O.,
Kushalnagar (Coorg),
Karnataka 571234.

 

Patric Rozario
26 Aug 2012

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2nd largest Tibetan settlement is in South India

Tibet, the name itself conjures up exotic images and tales; this country is least explored by outsiders, and is surprisingly, still out of bounds for most of the world! Fortunately however, one does not need to travel all the way to Tibet to get a taste of what it is like. Close to Kushalnagar in Coorg (Karnataka) is Bylakuppe, the second largest Tibetan settlement in India.

Bylakuppe comprises of two Tibetan refugee settlements that were setup – Lugsum Samdupling in 1961 and Dickyi Larsoe in 1969, both of which has now grown into a full-fledged town housing the largest Tibetan population outside of Dharamsala in India. These peaceful Tibetans are no more refugees, for they have become part and parcel of the Indian society and history.

Golden Temple is the main tourist attraction in Bylakuppe. Tourists are welcomed to visit the monasteries and temples. Photography is allowed even inside the temple.

On 7th Aug 2012, together with my family and friend Sunil Crasto, I visited this settlement and spend some valuable time at the Golden Temple. Though I went trigger-happy with my camera, I felt a sense of guilt photographing the monks. Though tourists are welcome and photography is allowed, vacationers (including me) were insatiably aiming our cameras at these monks, as if they were some zoo creatures. I could see a sense of discomfort in some of the faces of the young monks. As a solace, can we all then take back these photographs and in return leave behind our respect and admiration for these Tibetans and their way of life.

One final thought. When some nations occupied neighboring countries, or civil disturbances occurred, the world cried foul. They banded together and sent armies and tanks to ‘bring peace’, while tactfully taking care of their personal interest. What did the world do when China occupied Tibet in 1949? An estimated 1.2 million Tibetans have perished as a result of more than 40 years of occupation and the cultural genocide in Tibet continues unabated, as the world’s governments stand by, virtually without action. Why oh why? Because the Tibetans are peace loving people, or is it because there is no oil in Tibet?

Patric Rozario
15 August 2012