Music Photography Travel

Chasing Coorg!

4th January 2015

I brought in the new year packing a suitcase.

On Jan 1st, I set off on a road trip to Coorg to watch Lagori perform at Storm Festival. Surprisingly, Bangalore decided to celebrate the inaugural hours of 2015 with a burst of sudden rain, so that really added to the drama. The three cars met up at a tiny hotel near Orion Mall, and all of us wolfed down plates of steaming idli-sambar-chutney.

Much of the drive was spent catching up on sleep, considering that we left before dawn and I hadn’t slept a wink. We reached Virajpet around noon, and passed by the festival venue on our way to the place we were going to be staying — Coffee Trails. If you’ve been to Coorg before, you’d know just how the narrow the roads are. A short distance away from the venue, we got stuck in our first “traffic” jam. People were gesticulating at a tipper truck that was stationed on the left side of the road, leaving only a tiny bit of space for vehicles (including buses) to slip past. Already from a distance, we could see that there was smoke rising from the side of the truck, and when we passed by it, we saw flames rising up from one of the front wheels. Later on in the day, we found out that the driver hadn’t realised that the top part of the truck had snagged a live wire. When he put his hand on the truck door to investigate what he had hit, he was electrocuted to death.

Coffee Trails is a beautiful homestay in Virajpet. We were lucky enough to have the whole place (4 rooms) to ourselves. Ms. Ragini is a pleasant host, and it was lovely to unwind in a place that accommodated our rather large, noisy group. Mr. Edwin and the staff are extremely hospitable. The highlight of Coffee Trails of course is the large balconies in each of the rooms. The top two have especially gorgeous views.

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View from one of the first floor rooms at Coffee Trails

After freshening up a bit (and savouring our first of many cups of coffee), we set off for the festival venue which was only a short distance away. While the band went ahead and began prepping for soundcheck, the rest of us went out to hunt for lunch. Turns out the security teams weren’t in place yet, so we couldn’t enter the ground. Since we were counting on hitting the food stalls for lunch, I began grumbling a bit. One helpful volunteer pointed across the wall to a restaurant and told us we could go there to eat, so that’s what we did. We tucked into some local chicken curry, fishy curry, ghee rice and chappatis.

I couldn’t tell you the name of this restaurant even if I wanted to, because all the nameplate said was this:

Where had lunch on Day 1

Where had lunch on Day 1

By the time were done, the venue was allowing people inside. Let me tell you, Storm Festival takes their security very seriously so there were several ominous looking security personnel with several sniffer dogs.

Lagori finished their sound check, and began their set. It was fun watching people trickling into the area before the stage and pretty soon the place was filled up. I’ve watched quite a few of their shows (ok, more than a few) and their festival gigs are my favourite.

Playing Lagori with the crowd

Up next was Live Banned, and these guys are just so much fun to watch. I forgot to take pictures, but this time they were dressed up in monkey caps, shawls and mufflers. Amrit as usual was his crazy self on stage (“Where is Usha aunty?”).

By far the star of the evening was indomitable Usha Uthup. Her attitude, her presence, her beautiful Kanjeevaram and of course, her voice. AMAZING.

Usha Uthup at Storm Festival

Usha Uthup at Storm Festival

She made several references to the age gap between her and the audience, but I honestly believe she has the soul of an 18 year-old. The crown sung along to Shaan Se, Skyfall, Dum Maaro Dum and Kolaveri Di with equal gusto and she just got more impressive with every song.

And with that, Storm Festival came to an end and we headed back to Coffee Trails for dinner. Mr. Edwin and the kitchen staff supplied us with enough Coorgi pork and chicken curry to feed a small army. The next morning, we ate a scrumptious breakfast consisting of tava paratha, tomato gojju, omelettes and toast before heading off to Geeth’s friend Vishnu’s estate where, after an exciting jeep ride, we climbed up to the top of a hill and drank water from a stream (spoilt city folk, what to do).

Lush green estate

I know I seem to be talking a lot about the food, but we spent the rest of the afternoon in a treehouse, where we tucked into more amazing pork, chicken curry, benne kadabu and nool puttu.

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Treehouse lunch

We really didn’t feel like heading back home, but we had to get back to reality. Here’s to more travelling, more adventures, more music and more memories in 2015!

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