Accept the Right Challenge

We consider our daily engagements with various aspects of the material world as beautiful, bringing us great joy (and sorrow). Consider our desires for ALL things and beings that can be described by our five senses. These temptations ever goad us to aspire more, more and more such beautiful material things. Neverendingly. This results in an endless cycle of desires, our machinations to attain them, eventual dissatisfaction and sadness. That same desire, which we aspired for so much, eventually leads to disappointment and sorrow. This continuous cycle of sprouting of desires and their death, is what we need to #Cancel. Continue reading “Accept the Right Challenge”

Grand Challenge Udupi

For Innovation to serve the people and move the country forward, we ultimately need to reach the most underprivileged in our society.  This was exactly our goal when we teamed up with the local government – Udupi District and developed this Grand Challenge.

The District officials under the leadership of Deputy Commissioner Smt Priyanka Mary Francis and Assistant Commissioner Shilpa Nag, picked issues they grappled with most.
Continue reading “Grand Challenge Udupi”

Krishna Muth Udupi, Hanuman Shrine

Photos at Hanuman Shrine at the Shri Krishna Muth, Udupi, Karnataka by

Inside the Krishna Muth, Udupi, there are many shrines to different deities. One of the first along the corridor is the Hanuman Shrine. A small group of devotees were singing bhajans there. The light streaking through the door and tall windows lit the singers in a golden hue. I sat inside for a few minutes enjoying the music. Then bowed at the shrine and went to enjoy the rest of the temple. Continue reading “Krishna Muth Udupi, Hanuman Shrine”

Krishna Muth, Udupi

Photos of Main Gopuram of the Shri Krishna Muth, Udupi, Karnataka by Arun Shanbhag

After a long hiatus, I recently returned to the Shri Krishna Muth in Udupi, Karnataka. What a joyous, uplifting experience it was getting darshan of BālaKrishna (child Krishna). The temple and seminary were founded by Sant Madhavāchārya, in the late 13th century; it has since become the center of Krishna bhakti and Dvaita Philosophy. It is here that Krishna showed us his grace. One night as Kanak Dās sat outside the temple singing the glories of Krishna, the mischievously smiling child Krishna was overcome by the soul-stirring music and turned to listen to his devotee. Thus turned, he stands today. A tiny stone grill is cut in the granite side wall from which we get darshan. Continue reading “Krishna Muth, Udupi”

Lunch & Chanting at Saraswati Vidya Kendra

photos of kindergarten tudents eating lunch at Saraswati Vidya Kendra Kumta by Arun Shanbhag

I have previously written about the mid-day school lunch at the Shanbhag High School and the primary Saraswati Vidya Kendra in Kumta. When I visited Kumta earlier this year, I took a few video snippets of students lining up for lunch and the KG students chanting the blessing.

At the Konkan schools, teachers too have a uniform saree. In the video, you see them helping. Seniors serve the lunch, while teachers help seat the kids and serve seconds. Continue reading “Lunch & Chanting at Saraswati Vidya Kendra”

Kini Hotel, Kumta

pics of chai and breakfast at Kini Hotel Kumta by Arun Shanbhag

This tiny tea shop in Kumta is my main eating and meeting place in Kumta. It’s in the main paent (market) and only a few steps from the Shanteri Kamakshi Devasthan and the Venkatraman Muth/Devasthan. Continue reading “Kini Hotel, Kumta”

Kumta Street Vegetables

In the Kumta market, these women set up shop early in the morning before the crowds got there. Those vegetables look so delicious! It was March, so the variations of brinjals/eggplants were in season. You will also find konkani classics padwal, ghosalae, muLi (radish), tambdi bhaji (red leaves), vaaLi (green creeper leaves), muggae, karate, maskaa sang, jaam and others. If you notice others, let me know.
photos of fresh vegetable vendors on Kumta Street by Arun Shanbhag Continue reading “Kumta Street Vegetables”

Honavar Bunder

Photos of fishermen on the Sharavati at the Honavar Bunder by Arun Shanbhag
When we were kids, Honavar Bunder was an intriguing place. We’d spend all morning just hanging around the folks mending nets and running around upturned boats. The fishing boats fished at the estuary with the Arabian sea and usually came in just around lunch. If you had the patience for a late lunch, you could always get some very fresh fish curry. Walking across the Kasarkod bridge over the Sharavati river was the highlight of most evenings. Continue reading “Honavar Bunder”

Hanumant Devasthan, Bhatkal

pics from the Hanumant Devasthan temple in Bhatkal Karnataka by Arun Shanbhag

In a spotless white dhoti, a white jhabba and a topi covering his pate, my abbu (grandfather) would stride purposefully to his pharmacy store in the Bhatkal (in rural Karnataka) paent every morning. Clutched under his left arm was an old-fashioned, wood handled umbrella, the black fabric faded by the south indian sun. When he walked, he did NOT saunter, amble, or loiter; he strode, like every cell from his heel to his head were marching to a higher purpose. Fingers on his right hand would count as he mouthed this mantras. As a little boy following him in awe, I was fascinated by the surroundings. Those dragon flies flitting about were hypnotizing; perhaps that quietly munching cow would charge; a cat meows, jumps on a low wall and scurries; a tribe of monkeys screeched in the trees; those naga (snake) stone in the fields tilted as they stood guard over centuries. I’d follow quietly. Continue reading “Hanumant Devasthan, Bhatkal”

Ram Navami – battle against terror continues

Frieze of Shri Ram killing Ravana at the Khetapai Narayana Temple in Bhatkal by Arun Shanbhag

Wishing All
A Wonderful Rām Navamī
Bliss in Śri Rām’s Grace

M&m and A


The frieze above is from the outer wall of Khetapai Narayan Temple in Bhatkal, which I recently visited. This tiny stone temple was built ca 1546 when Konkani traders escaped Portuguese persecution in Goa and settled in Bhatkal. The Bhatkal port had become the primary port for trade by the Vijayanagar empire with its capital in Hampi. Continue reading “Ram Navami – battle against terror continues”

Krishna Janmashtami – Shri Krishna Muth Udupi

Murti of Udupi Shri Krishna with Alankar during Paryaya

Greetings for Krishna Janmashtami!

The Shri Krishna Muth in Udupi, Karnataka was founded by Sant Madhvāchārya, a Vaishnava Saint (1238-1317) who also propounded the Dvaita philosophy of Vedanta.
Continue reading “Krishna Janmashtami – Shri Krishna Muth Udupi”

Video: Weaving Jaaii Flowers


During recent travels, I was visiting relatives in Honavar, Karnataka – a sleepy coastal town south of Kumta (see google map below). I had stopped by a family store to add money to my pre-paid cell phone. There, this older gentleman was weaving these delicate pink buds called jaaii-che kaLo. These buds only sprout after the monsoon rains (June – August), have a delicate fragrance and are highly sought after during the festival season in July-September. It was a simple, yet mesmerizingly beautiful weave and he agreed to let me record it on my flip video. Continue reading “Video: Weaving Jaaii Flowers”

Charlie Chaplin in Rural India

Movie directors will go to any ‘height’ to seek publicity. One Hemnath Hegde wants to install a 62-foot statue of Charlie Chaplin as the backdrop for two Kannada movie song sequences. He wants to offer that as a permanent contribution to rural Karnataka and hopefully get into the Guiness Book of World Records.

When locals complain they don’t want this 62-ft statue of someone who they don’t even know in their town, the director stokes fires of Hindu-Christian antagonism. Get real, Mr Movie Director!

Has the director considered disposable materials to make his statue and dismantling it just like he’d any studio set? And really, just because he wants to get in the Guiness Book of World Records, doesn’t mean he can run roughshod over local community sentiments.

Would you want your rural landscape marred by a 62-ft Charlie Chaplin ogling down at you every morning? (Please take poll below.) This is approximately the height of a 5-storey building in an area where the average houses are single storeys. Ooops, he wants to place this statue on a popular beach, near the entrance to a temple! This is about common sense and nothing to do with religion.

The equivalent would be if a movie director wanted to place a 62-ft statue of Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan on Myrtle Beach in South Carolina! Not going to happen!

Mr Movie director, please take your statue somewhere else, and really, we are NOT going to watch your movie either! 🙂



Changing topics.
Wish more Indians will focus on important issues facing our children. A recent article in the NYTimes, reports that child malnutrition rates in India are worse than in some sub-saharan African countries.

“In China, … just 7 percent of its children under 5 are underweight, a critical gauge of malnutrition. In India, by contrast, despite robust growth and good government intentions, the comparable number is 42.5 percent. Malnutrition makes children more prone to illness and stunts physical and intellectual growth for a lifetime.”

Sadly, the elite Indian media and bloggers are silent on this travesty and wasting ink on the statue!

Lunch at the Shanbhag School


In 2007, the Shanbhag School in Kumta (and their parent, the Konkan Education Trust), started to provide lunch for all their students. In the midst of a long day, the students had previously rushed home during their lunch hour. There are no cafeterias or restaurants near the school.

The school made a significant investment in cooking equipment and prepares a nutritious, vegetarian meal for the ~ 850 primary and secondary school students. Lunch is simply rice, sambar or daal, a lentil curry or vegetable and pickles (see actual student plate above).

During my meetings with parents of Scholarship recipients, and listening to comments at the Parents Teachers Meeting, parents absolutely love the school lunch program. Parents are relieved of the pressure to pack a lunch every morning, or have it ready for the lunch break. Parents are also surprised (and glad) their kids actually eat the variety of vegetables and lentils the school serves. The school subsidizes the lunch and charges students Rs 80 per month (~$2 per month, Rs 4 per meal or ~ 10 cents per lunch!). Students not on the meal plan can eat occasional meals and drop cash in an unmanned donation box.

Kids love the food too. Meals are taken in the company of friends (and associated peer-pressure to finish their plate). Lunch is done within 20-30 minutes, and since they still have an hour break, they get to play around, gossip, or browse the library.

I showed up just before lunch time to “test the quality of the school lunch program.” I always have interesting reasons to be present wherever free lunch is served. Very delicious food and a primary reason why we included lunch as part of the scholarship package for needy students. If your travels bring you to Kumta, you are welcome to join in for a delicious lunch.

Note: In this post from 2014, you can see new pics and video snippets of students in the primary Saraswati Vidya Kendra, lining up for lunch and chanting the blessing.

See pics from the Lunch, below
Continue reading “Lunch at the Shanbhag School”

Scholarships for the Needy

I have previously written about the Shanbhag School, an academic beacon in Kumta and surrounding villages.

The Shanbhag High School, managed by the Konkan Education Trust does not receive any governmental aid. But it follows the state determined academic syllabus and guidelines. While we attract many students who can afford fees, our family wanted to make good education particularly accessible to the poor. Thus last year we gave 16 scholarships to very needy students to attend either the Shanbhag High School, or the affiliated primary school, Saraswati Vidya Kendra. At a new site dedicated to our Scholarship activities, (Shikshan.org), you can browse the list of Scholarship Recipients for 2007-2008.

You can also read about my personal challenges in identifying needy girls: Where are all the needy girls?

We did not rest, last December (2007) during my travels to Kumta I visited most of the scholarship recipients in their homes. The visit served two purposes: (a) to meet the families and convince them of our commitment to support their child’s education ~ and in turn expect them to make education a priority; and (b) to ensure that these were indeed needy families, which I could determine from their living conditions.

They lived in simple 1 or 2 room homes, or with relatives, and it was emotionally overwhelming to experience the gratitude of these families. Below, I share with you some of the scholarship recipients in their home settings. Appropriately I have omitted their names.


We supported the boy in the center, flanked by his father and cousin sister. Being poor, the girl was enrolled in the local government run Kannada language school. She wanted to attend our English school, but being in 8th std (grade) it would have been academically disastrous for her to switch the language of instruction a year before the State Board Exams. This was an important reason why we started giving scholarships to students in primary school!

Continue reading “Scholarships for the Needy”

Rām Navami: A Tribute to Rām

Frieze of Hanuman paying tribute to Ram, Lakshman & Sita in Hampi by Arun Shanbhag
Frieze of Hanuman paying tribute to Ram, Lakshman & Sita on Hemakuta, Hampi

shri ramachandra charanau manasa smaraami
shri ramachandra charanau vachasa gruNaami
shri ramachandra charanau SHirasa namaami
shri ramachandra charanau SHaranam prapadhyae

On Rama’s feet I meditate
With words I praise
With lowered head I pray
At Rama’s feet I seek refuge!

Continue reading “Rām Navami: A Tribute to Rām”

Uma: Quencher of Thirst

It was a blazing hot summer afternoon in Hampi. As I walked out of the magnificent Vithala Temple, my throat was parched. Even my sweat had dried in this arid North Karnataka summer. The sight of this woman under a bright red umbrella, tending a cooler with drinks was an oasis of bliss to a weary traveler. I ambled over and quickly gulped two bottles of my favorite: Limca! Aaaah! I bought a few more bottles for M and the driver.

She charged me 12 rupees for each. I gave her the money. But ever eager to practice my kannada and engage in conversation, I asked here only jokingly, why it was 12 rupees here, while it was only 10 rupees in the city. She must have been surprised by my heavily accented and rudimentary kannada, and realizing I was joking, she started giggling. I could not keep a straight face and started to laugh too.

I made small talk, asked her name and generally how many drinks she sold in a day. Her name was Uma and she sold about a crate (of 12) each day. I estimated she made 4 rupees profit on each bottle, netting her about 50 rupees a day (slightly more than a dollar)! And for that she had to stand in this heat all day! And some one had to drop her here and pick her up in the evening. And she has not yet eaten! Life is tough! But she had a certain calm about her and I think this pic radiates her inner peace. And her confidence!

As I prepared to leave, I asked her again why it was 12 rupees for each drink: yaakae hutnerdu rupaiya?
Now she really burst out laughing, and I laughed with her. After a few moments she composed herself, then lifted the lid of the cooler, pointed inside and with a twinkle in her eyes mouthed a single word: Ice!

On this blistering hot day, she knew the magic word. For that thirst-quenching ice cold drink, I would gladly have paid twice as much!



I was gifted this small, yet well done bronze of Uma by my cousin brother Ramnath. He has a good eye for art work.

This is Uma (Parvati) as Shivakami – the beloved of Shiva, in a classic tribhanga pose. This is purported to be a late 18th century reproduction of the 11th century piece from the Kulottunga I era. I have had this for several years and I never tire of admiring it. It is small and fits nicely in the palm of my hand. I am drawn to her graceful pose. I am drawn to her exceptional beauty. I am drawn to the inner calm she radiates! And I am drawn to the confidence she exudes!

The craftsmanship is exquisite for so tiny a piece and we have no idea where this statuette resided for the last several centuries. The sharp features suggest she was not used for any puja. Prolly stayed in a noble household.

It is said that the easiest way to reach Shiva is to appease Parvati (or Uma) and have her champion you to Shiva! Perhaps it is that restlessnes in my heart that draws me to her. I certainly thirst for her grace! And every time my eyes fall on Uma, I know my thirst will soon be quenched.

Meeting Aayi of Aayis Recipes

Looking for new recipes, you have likely browsed Aayi’s Recipes the uber popular food blog hosted by Shilpa. This is M’s favorite “go-to” site anytime she needs inspiration for her cooking.

During my travels to India, I look forward to visiting our ancestral town of Kumta – Jewel of the Konkan in coastal Karnataka. And when I read that Shilpa’s Aayi (mother) actually lives in Kodkani, a village near Kumta, I had to make the pilgrimage and take darshan of this Devi – the inspiration behind Aayi’s Recipe. I contacted Shilpa and asked to visit her parents. She readily agreed and gave me their contact details.

And on a beautiful Saturday, I hitched a ride on a school bus dropping kids off to kodkani. Now, that in itself needs a separate post.

As the bus pulled up at the designated place, Shilpa’s father was waiting and brought me to their beautiful home! Wow! A traditional style bungalow, which immediately transported me back to the home of my grandparents in Bhatkal. Terracotta tiled roof; an open ‘jagli’ and a tulsi vrindavan in the front yard. The magnificently blossoming tulsi gave me great vibes of the place (see pic later).

And what a joy it was to finally meet Shilpa’s Aayi! Yes, Aayi of “Aayi’s Recipes.” Hundreds of thousands have salivated at her dishes, as shared by Shilpa. Legions have been inspired to try her creations for their loved ones. And so many look forward each day to new posts to titillate the palate. And I was invited to a beautiful konkani lunch made by her! 😀

Look at the spread. I hurriedly captured it before wolfing everything down. By the time I was through, not a morsel was left. What is more beautiful than all those recipes Shilpa posts on AayisRecipes? Eating dishes lovingly made by her Aayi! … and I got to eat it! nyean, nyean, nyean, nyean!

Continue reading “Meeting Aayi of Aayis Recipes”

Shanbhag Fastfood

During one of our trips through Karnataka, we visited Hampi to see the ancient city of Vijayanagar. What a fascinating city! Under a UNESCO mandate, extensive restorations are ongoing. The temples are awe inspiring! But for M, the best part of the trip was our stay in the nearby town of Hospet. A busy, dusty town at the crossroads of the Manganese ore trade. Here we made camp at the “Shanbhag International.” There was nothing international about this place. Even by Indian standards, it was an average “Hotel,” but importantly it had a few air-conditioned rooms. Continue reading “Shanbhag Fastfood”

Shanbhag School in Kumta

photos of CVSK High School Kumta by Arun Shanbhag
Our grandfather is from the village of Chitrigi in Kumta (coastal Karnataka). Since he moved to Mumbai in the 1930s, we all considered Mumbai our home with not much connection to Kumta. About a decade earlier, our family decided to support a High School building in Kumta in memory of our grandfather, but our family remained uninvolved in the school management.

A few years ago when I visited Kumta, I was thrilled to see an institution bearing my grandfather’s name. And ecstatic on hearing eedy students grateful for the fine school in the area. For me this served as a call to action; to serve this area, the students and the school. Continue reading “Shanbhag School in Kumta”

Karnataka Cuisine: What a feast it is!

Food blogs are fascinating ways to learn about different cuisines, new dishes, new ways to prepare old dishes, and importantly, gives ides of what to cook up for the simple daily dinner, or even the special feast coming up.

Have to confess, M looks through a few food blogs every day to figure out what new dishes to conjure up every evening to tame her impatient, ravenous husband. Yes, I am well fed! 😛

As I have elaborated before, food blogs have an important advantage, they are not written by celebrity chefs mixing ingredients in designer kitchens for TV fans. These are written by your average householders, who are always time-challenged to cook something delicious yet simple and healthy for their loved ones – their own spouses and kids. Yes and in their cooking you find the most precious spice of ‘love’.

But how do you track the seemingly millions of food blogs out there? Over the last several months I have tracked several Foodies and listed them in my Food to Live For blogroll on ArunShanbhag.com

A useful trend amongst foodies is to organize a ‘Round-up’ based on an ingredient or festival. Contributors post recipes on the theme and an organizer rounds-up and links the recipes in a large post.

Asha of FoodiesHope, recently organized a Round-up of “Regional Cuisines of India: Karnataka.” Foodies from around the globe recreated traditional dishes in modern kitchens and also conjured up new recipes with locally available ingredients.

Asha, received 368 contributions and has painstakingly sorted and summarized it in four posts. If you even remotely like Karnataka Cuisine, this is verily food nirvana:

  1. Appetizers and Snacks
  2. Breakfast and Brunch. (Includes a dazzling variety of dosas!)
  3. Dishes for the Main Course
  4. Spicy Powders, Desserts and Else.

So take a few minutes to visit her posts, identify the recipes you like, click through for the complete recipes. Since some of the contributors were already on my Food to Live For blogroll, we have tried several of these dishes at home. Yumm! No doubt I have not had a chance to post – coz we were busy eating :-))

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