Looking Back at January 2015 || Holding on to the Warm Memories of Kerala

"Winter this year was exceptionally cold and long." I think we, those of us who reside in the plains of North India, have now been hearing or saying this each year for past decade. Winters do seem to be getting tougher each year. While there are some people like me who would be more than happy if the entire year was one long, dreary winter, there are others who do not feel too warmly about the season, and for good reasons too. For the elderly winters are especially tough with arthritis and UTIs rearing their ugly heads. For parents of young children, it is tough to wake up their darlings on shivery winter mornings and send them off into the dense fog towards their schools. So we understand and respect all points of view about the season.

Travelling Camera was lucky to be in Kerala over the new year and we have held on to the warm memories ever since. January 2015 was mostly a celebration of Wayanad and Kannur districts of Kerala and this is likely to continue well into February as well. So before we start talking about the aspects of Kerala we covered in January, let us talk about everything else.

January 26, 2015 saw our beloved homeland India celebrating her 66th Republic Day. This Republic Day saw an unprecedented participation of women army personnel in the Republic Day Parade. We hope to see this trend catch up in other fields too. The best way to achieve gender equality in society is to give equal space to all genders in all areas. We seem to be headed in this direction and we are really glad to see this. 

January is also the perfect time for birding. Sites like Pong Dam and Keoladeo Ghana National Park start teeming with birding enthusiasts and countless birds that arrive in India from faraway lands. Travelling Camera believes that we can do a much better job at providing these birds a home away from home. Their habitats should be protected from any kind of interference, even religious. This year there were reports of the birds at Okhla Bird Sanctuary being scared away by the loud musical processions that accompany the Chatth Pooja. Click here to read the report. We need to understand that nature is God and unless we respect it, all our devotion and worship is useless.

To continue the celebrations of the #CleanIndia campaign, we wrote this little story of Prafulram, the compulsive litterbug. Do read and let us know if you enjoyed it.

We also had our brush with history this month. From the majestic monolithic temples of Masroor in the North in Himachal Pradesh to Hampi and Mysore Palace in Karnataka. While Masroor temple and Hampi have always been our favorite, Mysore Palace was a bit of a let down simply because they didn't allow cameras inside the palace. Nothing can be more disappointing for a photographer.
Our academic contributions this month were in the form of tips. In the first post, we try to decrypt the relation between PPI/DPI and document size and in the second post we try to zero in on the best setting for views in photoshop. Try these out and do share your views whether you found these tips helpful.

We tested the Panorama feature of iPhone 6 and found it to be quite easy to use. Here are the posts where you will find the photographs that we created using this feature: Himachal Pradesh and North Kerala. We find the feature really easy to use and the results acceptable. Do let us know what you feel about the photographs clicked using the feature.

We also happened to attend another creative writing workshop by our partner Literature Studio and this was a completely different experience. For a change the workshop was for very young children, all aged between 6 and 9. Naughty Monty workshop by Literature Studio saw some wonderful stories being created by children, then and there within the workshop.

Our guest authors this month visited Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

Animesh Bhargava went in search of the paranormal to the fort touted as the most haunted place in India. At the end, though he did not find any spooks, he did come back with some rather wonderful photographs. Click here to take a look.

Whereas Peeush Tomar found miracles when he didn't go looking for any and that too in the lap of nature at Kalpa, Himachal Pradesh. Read this post for a brilliant write-up and some brilliant photographs.

And now, coming back to North Kerala. We visited Wayanad and Kannur over Christmas and New Year. We were in Kerala for seven days and stayed in homestays. We loved Wayanad and also enjoyed our time in Kannur.

In Wayanad, we visited the predictably touristy Soochipara Waterfalls, the beautifully serene Pookode Lake, and the magnificent Banasura Sagar Dam, where we met the artist Tanish Daniels.  We explored the cliched Curuva Island and the tough-to-get-to Edakkal Caves. We stayed in Coffee Plantations and understood the process of Rubber production and we also bicycled around the Tea estates of Wayanad.

The high points of our Kannur visit was the spectacular location of our homestay right on Thottada Beach and the fact that we got to watch Theyyam. Here are some sights we came across while driving around Kannur.

We stayed in three homestays during our trip to Kerala. Following are our reviews of them:

Treasure Trove, Meenangadi, Wayanad

Bamboo Village, Wayanad

Blue Mermaid, Kannur

And of course we had chai, so here are the The Great Indian Chai Experiences from Kerala:

The Great Indian Chai Experience - OceanO at Srirangapatna on the Bangalore-Mysore Road

And to sum up, here are some interesting statistics:

Total number of stories in Jan 2015 : 35
Total number of page views till date : 26, 50, 000 +
Total number of page views in Jan 2015 : 70,000 +

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