Matagorda Island

‘Thick Brush’ is the literal translation from spanish. I am not entirely sure why they called it so! Matagorda island is a good 180 miles south west of Houston, by the Gulf of Mexico. It was my pick for a ‘less picnic-sy’ and more ‘solitud-ish’camp site for the June weekend. That is precisely was the websites told me.

So after days of scheduling and re-scheduling and re-scheduling, Vikrant Gandhi, Kiran Unni and yours truly finally picked up our brand new camp equipment and hit the road on a super warm saturday morning. The idea was to hit the port by early afternoon, take the ferry to the island and spend the night there, in the company of mother nature and fellow campers. At least, that was the idea on paper!

2:00 PM – We arrive at port-o-connor after a thankfully uneventful drive, except for the weird, dark restrooms of that lonely gas station!

2:30 PM – we hit the water on Ron’s fishing boat cum ferry. Easily the best part of the trip.

2:59 PM – I realize we forgot the beer. Thankfully Ron has backup in his ice box!

3:30 PM – kiran’s home made pav bhaji ka jawab nahin!

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4:00 PM – After a furious battle with the user’s manual, we finish setting up the tent – at least in our opinion!

5:30 PM – We begin the walk to the other side to say hello to the Gulf of Mexico. Little did we know at that time that it will be our longest and most terrifying hello ever!

7:15 PM – After losing our way 5 times and not spotting a single rattle snake (it was supposed to be the rattler’s country), we are still a mile from the gulf….but at an interesting cross road and sign!

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8:00 PM – After surprisingly not waking up any alligators on our way, here we are at the gulf. Hello!

8:45 PM – The sun is still out and surprise surprise, we are still alive…what better time for relief!

9:30 PM

after an entire day’s vigil for rattle snakes and alligators, mother nature uses her alternate weapon of mass destruction on us….fire ants!!! shock & awe! as we tried to sneek in….
camping lesson 1A : Never pitch a tent on grass, if you have an option.

9:45 PM

Thats not all….surprise surprise, the other campers have called it a day. That means that we were the only homosapiens on that island for the night. Not exactly the saturday night plan we had….and with the ant revolution, it was time for a frantic call to ron the ferry guy!

10:15 PM

No sign of Ron’s boat….but we had company….distant sound of Coyotes……(very) ugly! With Vikrant and a kitchen knife standing between us and a potential argument with a pack of wild coyotes…..we wait for the boat…which eventually docks in pitch darkness….with the help of a fancy gps system.

1:00 AM

Back home at the apartment. Red wine and fast food. Not the ideal camping night we had in mind, but hey….I am not complaining!

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Meanwhile….

been a while since the last post…..Have been dying to catch up…..finally got a chance. The top 4 I HAVE to wite about….

The Namesake

Irrfan, Irrfan and Irrfan. The man is mind blowing! If Maqbool was awesome, this is Amazing! I have always felt that the key difference between western cinema and us is not inferiority in technical know-how, but (surprisingly) acting know-how. It is amazing how even a ‘lowly’ extra (not even supporting actor) in Hollywood / European Cinema puts in So much and comes across so convincingly, while we continue to be overwhemled by loud histrionics by our leading men and women। Irrfan is a cosmic aberration to this rule. He essays Ashoke with so much detail that it is a treat for senses.

In ‘Interpreter of maladies’, I was never able to get past ‘A Temporary Matter’ (It begs to be made into a slick B&W film). There is something so intriguing in the way Jhumpa tells us the simplest of human tales, that haunts us for weeks after we put the book down. I think it is the raw, undiluted honesty. I can feel that it is all over The Namesake, though I havent touched the book yet. The real coup is that this is also Mira’s primary weapon. The combination is heady. You get an instant high!


My first tent morning!

When my friends Miki and Neha invited me to their ‘trance party’ in the middle of nowhere, I said a reluctant ‘yes’, as it is a genre of music that I have never been able to relate to. Not to mention the ‘dance floor’ component – a frontier I have never managed to cross into successfully in life ;(. However i HAD to go, as it was also Neha’s farewell weekend in town before she flew to Atlanta to join her fiance. The place was a good 100 miles from any kind of civilization and I managed to get there after losing my way atleast 5 times. We pitched the tent in what seemed like an ocean of darkness, in biting cold. I was so tired from the driving and the ‘losing my way’ that I was fast asleep in my sleeping bag, with the trance playing in the far background. It must have been about 5:30 in the morning when Neha woke me up and said ‘you have to see this’….. and I stumbled out of the tent. Wow! the muddy colorado river was buzzing in front of me, covered in a fog blanket and behind us, the cliff announced itself in the first rays of sun…it was quite simply the best thing I have woken up to in the last 29 years…(beats the steamy Ash poster in my room during college, hands down!)…..and then there was Neha’s piping hot masala chai…life’s good!


Bangladesh!!

OK…This is officially the first time that I saw a match and a re-run consequtively, without the Indian team playing….wow! I cant believe that I can enjoy the success of a country whose army gorged the eyeballs off Indian BSF not long ago. I think it must be the ‘underdog slaying goliath’ masala that never fails to impress. I completely enjoyed Ashraful’s audacity and how these guys have revived the World Cup which was otherwise reaching a predictable death. Way to go!

On a related topic….I think this article by Sambit Bal is by far the sanest I have read about Cricket India, in the last few weeks of media diarhea.

http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/india/content/current/story/288900.html

Please note that this came days before the recent developments at the BCCI. By the way….Venkatesh Prasad as the bowling coach? whats next….SJ Suriya directing Pacino?

Mozhi

I loved Radha Mohan’s first – Azhagiya Theeye, for the screenplay and especially the humour. Mozhi was hyped beyond belief by every friend whose opinion I gave credibility to. Am happy that the film lived up to most of it. It is amzing how I have come to expect ‘nothing less than wow’ from Jyothika these days. and Vidyasagar! the man dishes out melodies like ‘Murugan Idli kadai’ does sambhar….and every serving is yummy!. Someone should name him Raja’s unofficial heir! My fav scene was the ‘zebra crossing as piano’ 😉

Chick Flicks et al

Been the most relaxing weekend in a long time. Spent most of it at home….surprisingly, havent done that in a long time bcause of the moving and then friends and family coming over, etc. Saw Guru finally and also managed to catch 2 other films on TV – both of which I have seen atleast 5 times. ‘Titanic’ and ‘Goodwill Hunting’. While the latter has been a personal favorite for a long time just for the way it has been written (matt damon/ ben affleck co-wrote it), I got the feeling that Titanic has been a critically under-rated film unfortunately.

Many of my friends slot it into the infamous ‘chick flick’ pigeon hole. I guess that is justified as a genre for this film. However, as I saw it today for the millionth time, I could see once again how smartly written that film is. Agreed, Di caprio mouths some very trite cliches, which sometimes border on the mundane…..but that doesnt really break the spell all that much….I think cameron has done a fantastic job of crafting this film with the greatest common denominator, so a majority of homosapiens can relate to it.

Guru was as expected, very good. I think it is the closest Mani has come to ‘engrossing’ cinema that is both believable and entertaining at the same time. Am thinking…if it takes someone like Mani roughly 2 decades to hone his skills to this level….what about shaky-kneed part-timers like me? Time is running out, I guess….I might see it again just for Mithun!

By the way….bought a new couch through craigslist. This website continues to freak me out. I wonder how popular it is back home. I see a packed page when I go to chennai.craigslist.com. have attached the couch image. I think it might have broken the record for the largest piece of furniture I have bought in my lifetime. All of 8 feet long and 3 feet tall