Thursdaysd's South Asian Sojourn

Dec 2nd, 2010, 04:53 AM
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I don't think there was room for a palanquin... At least I didn't have to carry my own bag, although I did wonder how dogster's silver suitcases made out!

Alas, my toe is still a problem. It is pretty much a normal color, but still sore and swollen. I'm going to start taking the anti-inflammatory tablets I got in HK for my ankle. Since it's been more than 10 days I'm wondering whether I really did break it. Possibilities for medical care are Mangalore and Mysore, but I'm not wild about visiting yet-another-doctor.

I arrived in Palolem today. The beach has certainly been discovered, but is still really beautiful. Once again, my room had non-working AC - I did get myself moved, supposedly for one night. We'll see.... Since it was a tough trip across Karnataka, and a tiring day visiting temples at Hampi, I may just chill out here, so not sure when the next mundane details will be revealed.

Thanks gertie, but total amateur (unless you count the Certificate in Professional Writing I got from NC State a while back, which was a lot of fun to get, but all about journalism.)
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2010, 06:45 AM
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Have you taped your toe? If it's broken, the only treatment (unless it's displaced) would be to tape it to the two adjacent toes and to wear a hard-soled shoe. Takes about three weeks to heal up.
indianapearl is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2010, 11:27 AM
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Thursdays, what a fantastic report!! Hmmm..methinks the road to Phulbari will see me as an armchair traveler only.
Dubai, Dog? I just dont imagine you choosing to go there--unless it is as source of marvelously caustic comments about fake wind and snow!
CaliNurse is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2010, 10:59 PM
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Thursdays, I'm just catching up with you in Kolkata. It's always gratifying to hear things that others enjoyed as much as you did (like the Durbar Square) and sad to hear of things that have changed for the worse (the lovely little courtyard at the museum in Patan where we had a wonderful thali)
Kathie is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2010, 11:01 PM
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Thursday,if are you in the mood to spoil yourself & up for some fine dining try the 'Sea BQ',delicious fresh grilled seafood or a sundowner at Corta's the beach shack,both at The InterContinental Grand.They have a lovely,rather large pool too,with a variety of cocktails served,in the sunken,open air bar at The Gazebo.
Truly envying you.Have fun
inquest is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2010, 05:40 AM
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Nov 10 - Mundane Details

In 18th and 19th century England, men who made large fortunes (generally from the despised practice of "trade"), sometimes spent a bit of it on pseudo-Gothic ruins intended to lend an air of antiquity to their newly-acquired country estates. Now we call them follies. These days, freshly minted millionaires (or billionaires) are exhibiting more philanthropic impulses, although in the case of Hans Hoefer's organic farm in the Nepalese mountains, the adjective that comes more readily to mind is quixotic.

Except that the farm, despite the intervening years of Maoist insurgency, is still there and still organic - no doubt entirely due to the abilities of the omni-competent manager, Govinda. Recent lack of rain seems more likely to take it down, although the two page letter from Hans and his wife Cynthia at the front of the guest book says they plan to switch to less-thirsty fruit and nut trees. In addition to the agricultural activities, the farmstead housed a dormitory, and a couple of small houses were built amid landscaping vaguely reminiscent of Tuscany, although the letter said quite plainly that the operation was a working farm, "not, whatever the villagers may think, a resort". It's a good thing it's not trying to be a resort, given that my signature in the book in November 2010 was preceded by only two others, dated September. I did notice, that while up at the farm I was "friend of Mr. 'dogster'", down in the village I was "friend of Mr. Hans", even though I've never met either gentleman.

The fact that it's not trying to be a resort might explain those mundane details dogster didn't mention, and I do think it's a good thing I was the visitor, rather than some higher-maintenance fodorite. Things started out well enough, though, with a cup of tea on the terrace outside the farmstead. Then I followed Govinda up a path edged with gold and russet flowers, through a gate, up another path and through another gate, to reach the Sun House, set back into a hillside and facing the mountains - except the mountains weren't visible. Later, I realized that the Sun House came by its name because the roof was translucent, and the afternoon sun shone through. Unfortunately, so did the moonlight.

Left alone, I checked that the lights worked, and absorbed the fact that the toilet, though Western, didn't flush (not really a problem - there was a tap and a pail) and that the only hot water available would arrive in the morning in a brass bucket (much more of a problem). I went off to explore, finding a couple of low, roofed benches (really tables) beside a pond, with views in all directions. I loved the setting, with trees and flowers everywhere, and a silence so complete I could hear the birds fly. I returned to the Sun House around dusk - to find that the lights no longer worked.

After I located my flashlight, I went back down to the farm, to learn that the power would be out from 5:00 to 7:00, and that someone was even now lighting candles for me (have you ever tried reading by candlelight?) Dinner arrived at 6:30 as scheduled, with lentil soup and rice kept warm in lidded pots and the vegetable curries cold. I had been instructed to leave the dishes outside, which was not the easiest thing to do when trying to carry a narrow-beamed flashlight and manouver over a threshold and down a step.

Govinda had brought a hot water bottle along with dinner, which was just as well, as the guys who showed up later to light the paraffin stove were unable to get it to work. Fortunately, I grew up with hot water bottles, and I knew that if I wanted more than a single patch of warm bed I needed to move it around. And since it provided the only warmth in the room I went to bed early, wondering what on earth I was doing there.

I found out in the morning.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2010, 05:57 AM
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Phulbari has inspired the best writing of your entire report.
dogster is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2010, 06:25 AM
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Eager to read whether you remain a friend of Mr.Dogster.
Marija is online now  
Dec 3rd, 2010, 03:14 PM
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i will be neither a resident at any god forsaken organic farm nor in that particular courtyard...

i think the hyatt might work better for least there would be a better chance of hot water not delivered in a cup
rhkkmk is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2010, 04:09 PM
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More mundane details please.
Femi is offline  
Dec 4th, 2010, 04:44 AM
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Well written -- descriptive, witty. We await the next installment.
indianapearl is offline  
Dec 4th, 2010, 10:02 AM
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Immensely enjoying your report so far Thursdaysd. These places may not be for our more well-heeled Fodorites, but I though the Courtyard was very comfortable, fun and, even though in Thamel, quiet, and in a good location to walk to many interesting places -- glad to hear Michelle and Pujan have finally managed to get a generator. I do hope to get to Phulbari one of these days and am looking forward to comparing your report with that of our intrepid Dog . . . can't wait to read more. Bravo!
travelaw is offline  
Dec 4th, 2010, 02:20 PM
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travelaw: Are you out of cyberpurdah???
indianapearl is offline  
Dec 4th, 2010, 04:33 PM
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Don't want to hijack thursdaysd's thread, but yes, Indiana I am out and HOME!!!!
travelaw is offline  
Dec 5th, 2010, 06:20 AM
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Welcome home, travelaw - are you out for good?

Dear me, Bob - how unadventurous! I wouldn't recommend Phulbari for you - no shopping or restaurants - but the Courtyard, as travelaw says, is quiet and comfortable, and surely more interesting than yet-another-Hyatt.

Marija - well, an apology for failure to warn would be nice... But I'm not holding my breath.

All - I had poor net access in Goa, and may have none at Kannur Beach or at Coorg, so I need to use the access I currently have in Mangalore to try to fill in a couple of holes in my India plans. And I need to put up a blog post, so I'm not sure when more details will appear. Good thing Gpanda doesn't seem to be reading or I'd start hearing about penalties, lol.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 08:58 PM
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Interesting reading....descriptive and inspired writing thursdaysd.

They say that India will do that for you.

Eager to hear more.
magical is offline  
Dec 6th, 2010, 10:17 PM
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Nov 11-12 - The Upside

Having gone to bed amazingly early (for me), I naturally woke up amazingly early (for me) - well before my hot water was due to arrive. I cleaned my teeth, put my warmest clothes back on, and took a look outside. Yes! Yesterday's haze was just a memory. Now, from west to east (or east to west), the horizon was one long band of mountains. The ice-white peaks seemed almost ethereal against a pale blue sky. Like the Taj Mahal, the impact of this view is something that neither words nor pictures can fully convey. The photos may persuade you to visit, but when you see the reality for yourself, you realize that they are just faint reflections. I spent most of the morning just absorbing the beauty.

Getting back to earth... Femi wants more mundane details and Marija wants to know whether I'm still friends with dogster... Attentive readers may have noticed that I consider coffee a necessity. It is fortunate for continued good relations with dogster that at an earlier stage in the trip I had bought some of those little sachets of Nescafe. Not real coffee, but better than nothing. Although there was no coffee in the Sun House, there was a kettle. An electric cord, apparently left by a passing Australian, did little to heat the water, while the gas ring worked very well when I managed to turn it on. However, the kettle had a hole in the top. This didn't stop the water boiling, but it did require a very careful approach to pouring it out.

Speaking of boiling water, when Govinda brought my hot water up from the farmstead, it was close to boiling. Since I didn't bother to ask for a hairdryer, and therefore didn't wash my hair, I had plenty of water. (For those who haven't tried it, my technique was to half-fill the dipper with cold water, and then top up with hot. After getting good and wet I soaped up, and then rinsed off. No problem.) Breakfast included a beautiful avocado, and lunch featured a piece of honeycomb Govinda had taken from the hive that day, which was delicious but not nearly as sweet as I expected.

When the clouds began to roll in again, I went down to the village. Really not so much a village as series of farms, with a shop, a school, a clinic and a Development Corporation building as the center. I bought a couple of snacks at the store, and took photos of a pretty girl and her animals at one of the farms, but was most interested by the contrast between the outside of the clinic and the development building, and the inside. I'm not quite sure what the government-appointed development guy was supposed to be doing, but inside his very nice building he had a very primitive office. A middle-aged man was learning to type on an aged computer, but they didn't have an internet connection. I found a similar situation at the clinic. Both buildings had been put up with outside money, from Japan in the case of the clinic, but somehow the donations had stopped short of furnishing the interiors. When I left I gave Govinda tip money for the staff, and extra "for wherever it was needed" - which seemed to be about everywhere.

The clouds had arrived to stay, and I spent most of the afternoon reading and typing. I did locate dogster's bench by the heliport (much to my surprise, a faded "H" did exist on the one flat area) but thought it too exposed to wind and sun - I preferred my perch by the pond. That evening the power stayed on, and Govinda was able to get the stove to work, but otherwise it was a repeat of the day before.

For me, the morning spent gazing at that wonderful view pretty much redeemed the trip. However, if the view had not appeared, and there were no more views for the rest of my time in Nepal, I would have had a different reaction. I also suspect that the same view might be available elsewhere in greater comfort. The ambiance at the farm is alluring - it just needs a few improvements....
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 7th, 2010, 04:41 AM
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What a great read. Yes, I can sympathise. I've stayed in places like that, not often and not recently. I admire your honesty!
gertie3751 is offline  
Dec 7th, 2010, 12:44 PM
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Very interesting reports and I had been enjoing them... My heart goes to you in the bad times and love it when everything goes well. I found them full of adventure and they are very descriptive.

On a different note;
I am reading "Shadow of the Silk Road" by Colin Thubron; it is an excellent book and beautifully written. Somehow I thought of you... maybe because I listened , months ago, to the interwiew of your travelings and your interest in the Silk Road 'route'...I bet you would find this book very interesting...
Keep us posted, please, all I do is take notes, who knows? Maybe I will venture to some of those places. Good luck!
Ah, I hope your toe is doing better..
nalijo is offline  
Dec 7th, 2010, 02:11 PM
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sorry T but your hut won't work for me, i'll stick with the hyatt
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