Coffee, black pepper, silk oak plantation agroforestry in Yercaud
After the conference in Salem we drove up to the Eastern Ghats. First we visited Kohlli Hills (which we thought was near where we were staying but turned out to be 90km in the opposite direction!), then we drove to Yercaud where we stayed in a really nice resort (3-day weekend, there wasn't much choice in hotels) for a couple nights. Forests were mostly confined to the lower elevations of the hills at Yercaud and the upper part was lush agroforestry systems growing coffee and spices.
Starting my talk
I was invited to give the Inaugural Address at the National Conference on Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity at Periyar University, Salem, Tamil Nadu last week. At first they asked for a 90 minute talk (!) but then dropped it to 45 minutes a few weeks ahead of the conference.
Since the conference was happening right before a 3-day weekend (Id-Milad) we decided to all go then spend a couple nights in a nearby Hill Station in the Eastern Ghats afterwards.
Dawn with classmates
For a portion of the time that Kalani's class is in Delhi, Kekai's class (and one above and one below) took a bus trip to Wayanad district, Kerala. They left on Friday morning (6am!) and will be home tonight. Tim and I took advantage of the extra time to make a trip to MM Hills for some more data collection and GPS mapping of the villages. Kekai seemed excited for the trip but since he wasn't allowed to bring a cell phone, we don't know how it's gone.
Kalani & his friends in their train berth
Kalani's growing up. Yesterday we put him on a train with kids from his class and the two classes above him (tho, small school so the last class is kids up to about 10th grade). It was a bit nerve-wracking since the teacher/chaperones were some of the last to arrive but the kids were all excited. They'll be on the train for 44.5 hours and arrive in Delhi tomorrow morning. Kalani's got 7 days in Delhi and surrounds, then a 36-hour train ride back, arriving in Bangalore on the night of 21 December. If you want to see where he is in real time, go to this link and type in 12629 (for Delhi bound train) or 12650 for his return train (click on the train name that appears below the search box (he left Dec 11 and will leave Delhi Dec 19), you may want to have Google Earth open).
Did you just get home from your daily commute, got out of the car in which you drove alone to work, preheated your oven for dinner, removed a cold beverage from your refrigerator, and turned on your computer to see what's new with the world? If so, like all the rest of us Americans, you should not be holding your head very high at this moment.
I have just returned from Mumbai (Bombay, for those of you still using the British city names) where I was an invited speaker (Resource Person, they called me) at the Nagindas Khandwala College International Seminar on Society, Politics and Climate Change. It was a great experience, Indian to the core but strangely reminiscent of conferences in Hawaii. And I can clearly say, Indians do not appreciate the carbon production and lack of responsibility for it that they see coming from the U.S.
Om Beach, Karnataka
The last leg of our Deepavali trip took us westward to the coast where I got to stick my toes into the Arabian Sea for the very first time. Just the sound of it: "Arabian Sea," "Malabar Coast," sounds hopelessly romantic and adventurous. Well, it didn't really involve too much adventure, but it sure was beautiful!
After 2 nights in Hampi it was a pretty easy 3-hour drive North to Badami where we immediately went up to the sandstone caves carved in the 6th Century and dedicated to an array of deities/religions from Shiva and Vishnu to Jain prophets. Each of the 6 main caves is entirely carved out of the parent rock with the pillars left connected on both ends. Very cool.
We started our five night Diwali trip in Hampi. We were going to go by train but with four tickets, once I started doing the calculations, it wasn't that much more to rent a car for the entire trip (way less than for 1st class on a train, probably less than for 2nd class as well) and we'd get to see a lot more of the in-between places that way. The drive from Bangalore was 5 or 6 hours and not too bad as far as India drives go
Hampi was eerily amazing. The main ruins on the tourist path were spectacular but just that: spectacular tourist ruins. When we started walking around we realized that the entire landscape was dotted with the remains of the city that once stood there. I saw it described as (in its heyday) larger than Rome and more beautiful than Lisboa and after a couple days there it's easy to imagine.
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