Thursday, December 15, 2011

No Shoka with Ashoka

                                            Sunshiny sunflower fields 
We visited parts of Northern Karnataka. Over the trip we replenished an old friendship with  long conversations. Our time together was punctuated with  field work,  periods of rest and quiet and the sharing of meals thrice daily.  My friend as Chef de Mission was revisiting Ashokan edicts and I was an attendant lord, if we eschew gender in this instance.Through these stone etched edicts, Ashoka  shared and  disseminated    personally experienced understanding and hard learnt truths  in the aftermath of the horrific Kalinga war.

The edicts were  at a considerable distance from one another. They are not particularly accessible to the modern tourist, used  to arriving at  destinations, accessing the site  and  heading to the cafeteria for re-hdyration. Srinivas and his Ambassador took us to most of the sites, but there was a lot of walking through field and rock to be done, occasionally bits of strenuous climbing through  both man made and naturally formed steps in the castellated hills that are part of the backdrop of Northern Karnataka.  The  hill contours  along the skyline are not smooth and undulating but are embellished with large rocks and crags , so much so, that these natural formations look rather like fortifications.
 The hills enclosed agricultural country and  the  abundant Tungabhadra and the Bhim  rivers ensured that  the land was rich in bananas and  lush green  paddy. We were at the beginning of the harvest season. Large mounds of rice were  spread out to dry by the wayside as were cobs of corn and  red chillies.  Walking for a few hours through the fields and rocks can build up quite an appetite.
For instant sustenance, we unpeeled pods of moong dal and tuvar in peak growth season and ate them with gusto. We saw the prosaic flatbean in flower  and  sunflower fields in full bloom We were  introduced to the joys of eating raw groundnuts, freshly  uprooted from the ground. We chewed upon juicy dark purple sugarcane stems beside the grove where Vaali, the Kishkinda monarch battled brother Sugreeva in ancient lore. One memorable moment in our food forays was when we encountered a double row of  magnificent tamarind trees..The bagful of green tamarind fruit  we gathered from the stately green trees lasted  over the next few days.Living in the city and dealing with produce that comes in plastic bags  off  supermarket shelves, it was a  unexpected reconnect with the source root and a continued visual treat.

corn cobs and red chillies drying in a field and  
areca nut  spread out to dry in the picture below.

1 comment:

  1. history, pictures , food and travelling! carry on!