Video: Approaching Kumta on the Konkan Railway


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Music: Mere Desh Ka Salaam, Shobha Gurtu.


Those who have ridden the Konkan Railway can attest, the rural countryside with emerald green fields is mesmerizing. I think of an early retirement in a village, a small house and running a school.

To share the genesis of this madness, I recorded the view. Here is a 67 second snippet, as the train crossed the Aghanashini River and approached the Kumta Train station. I recorded this from the doorway with my flip video, amidst the rain and rumbling of the train. Enjoy and tell me what you think.
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Scholarships for the Needy: 2009 – 2010

kumta needy students

That gift which is given, knowing it to be a duty, in a fit time and place, to a worthy person, from whom we expect nothing in return, is held to be most pure.
~ Bhagavad Gita, 17:20

Several years ago we started these scholarships to support needy girls at the Shanbhag School in Kumta. This year, more friends and family joined in helping us support 48 students (29 girls and 19 boys). We extended beyond our original charter and 40 of 48 students are from other schools in Kumta. With your support we will keep growing and eventually cover ALL needy students in Kumta!
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Fresh-ground Raagi Flour

Fresh ground Raagi Flour pics by Arun Shanbhag
Raagi Bhakri is a favorite in our home. It’s easy to prepare and very filling. During this past visit to Kumta I replenished our stock of Raagi flour.

A few blocks from our place in Kumta is a little “girNi” (or mill) which grinds various types of flour. It is run by a distant relative ours; apparently everyone in Kumta is related to each other! And fortuitously for me, he was milling raagi flour that day. So here’s a little tour of the making of Raagi Flour.

Above – Shanbhag maam (in Kumta I call all elders by this honorific ~ we are all related, you see) poses with a bag of Raagi flour.
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Kumta: Main Street


The Vegetable market sits on one end of main street also called “paent” in Kumta. The stores are tiny and carry whatever you would need. Nothing fancy here, just life's essentials. Several temples are on this street, thus flower sellers everywhere.

Notice the reddish tinged road. That comes from the red Laterite rock this entire Konkan region sits atop. In the konkan, everything is made from laterite: buildings, fence walls, bus-stop shelters, stores and even road side gutters. Crushed laterite gravel is used on the shoulders of all roads. Even the dust has a reddish tinge and so does the normally black asphalt road. After a few days here white clothes include a tinge of red.

A stroll down Main Street
The Venkateshwara Devasthan/Muth is in the center of town. I love exploring the inside of this beautiful, old temple. Piles of sand and gravel outside point to imminent construction; pray nothing gaudy.

Nearby is the Shanteri Kamakshi Temple. A thread-ceremony was going on inside and these girls, dressed in new clothes, were welcoming guests. Women received flower strands for their hair, men (and women) got sprinkled with perfumed water. Note the girl in red reaching for the chrome sprinkler.

After walking in the hot sun, my cousin and I decided to gate-crash this ceremony for some cool lemonade and mithai. We smiled at the girls, got doused in perfumed water and smiled our way to the back of the temple where the lemonade was still being mixed. There as we waited, the assistant picked up a block of ice sitting on the bare floor and tossed it in the giant pot” I had no intention of getting an upset stomach at the start of my holidays. Mithai too was nowhere to be seen. After bowing my head at the shrine, we departed.

Right outside the temple I tried taking a pic of the squatting flower-seller, and this women walked right into my field. Her expression suggests she was carrying a huge burden on her already drooping shoulders.

Parched throats had us dash to the corner shop with the red and white awning (Nayak's Cold drinks). Note the women selling an assortment of flowers, vegetables or fruits. Generally whatever grows on their plot.

On the back table as we waited to order Limbu-soda, a local person still sitting there was sipping, what looked like a glass of cold-coffee. Raagi Neeru (Nanchane udak) he noted. I remembered my grandmother making Raagi Neeru for us kids playing in the hot summer sun. Apparently the owner's wife makes it at home – delicious. They also served Teela Udak (white sesame water). Had to try that as well. After a few glasses of each, we were well prepared to brave the midday sun. Note empty glasses on table.

Apparently a very simple recipe for these cool-drinks. Roasted Nanchane or white sesame seeds are ground with some coconut gratings, jaggery and water. Thats it. Ayurveda experts would swear at how it would 'cool' the body from the inside. Amen!


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