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A walk in the green

 I have been clicking less pictures during my current stay in Kerala. This place is irresistible with greenery everywhere.  But Kerala has left me deeply dissatisfied because of the almost nonexistent sidewalks for pedestrians.

Yesterday, I finally gathered some courage and went for my first morning walk. Walking along the main road was terrifying. The vehicles were racing just inches away from me. 


The small roads are even more terrifying with just enough roadway for two vehicles to cross each other without hitting.


There were photo opportunities all along...


Finally, this river side made all the risk pretty worthwhile...




Our second baby

 We have a new member in our family - a baby boy. The baby arrived yesterday (April 11, 2014) at 10 AM.



Beginning of a beautiful relationship


I found this pair of Brahminy Starling (Sturnia pagodarum) birds at Baramati. 

It is usually seen in pairs or small flocks in open habitats on the plains of the Indian Subcontinent.

Like most starlings, the Brahminy Starling is omnivorous, eating fruit and insects.

My son loves Mr Bean

I was going through old photos of Nishu and found this where he seems to relate to Mr Bean.


Now at 7 years, he loves Mr Bean. I am glad he doesn't imitate him any more. 

Greater Coucal

I am in Kerala for a paternity break. As soon as I arrived today morning, I  got a glimpse of this fella in the backyard. This is the only shot I got before it disappeared in the foliage. Hope to see him again and capture a better photo.


The Greater Coucal or Crow Pheasant (Centropus sinensis) is a large non-parasitic member of the cuckoo order of birds, the Cuculiformes. A widespread resident in Asia, from India, east to south China and Indonesia.

Some interesting information about the bird:
1. They are weak fliers, and are often seen clambering about in vegetation or walking on the ground. They are brisk walkers.
2. They eat a wide range of insects, caterpillars and small vertebrates. They are also known to eat bird eggs, nestlings, fruits and seeds.
3. Greater Coucals are monogamous, and the courtship display involves chases on the ground and the male brings food gifts for the female. The female lowers her tail and droops her wings to signal acceptance. The nest is built mostly by the male over about three to eight days.
4. The calls are booming low coop-coop-coops, the reason why the bird is called Uppan in Kerala.
5. The bird is associated with many superstitions and beliefs. The deep calls are associated with spirits and omens.

Birders in action

Patience, improvisation and flexibility is so often needed in bird photography...




Inquisitive little girl



I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.

--Eleanor Roosevelt

Visit to the Four Seasons Winery in Baramati


I was invited to the Four Seasons Winery in Baramati, Pune, India. The trip was planned right in the harvest season.

Here's a photo essay of the two day trip...


The flight from Bangalore was only 1 1/2 hours. The view of the hills from the flight enables you to guess that you are now entering the Sahyadri hill range. Four Seasons Wines produces wines from grapes grown around Sahyadri valley...


It was a two hours drive from Pune airport to the Four Seasons Winery. On the way, I saw farmers transporting their sugarcane produce on bullock carts. Apparently, it is the harvest season for sugarcane too. I was happy to see the goat hitch a ride...


Finally reached the destination. The majestic chateau impressed me at first sight...


Upon reaching the chateau, I was handed the welcome note from Abhay Kewadkar, Director and Chief winemaker...


I got a quick glance of the vineyard spread around the chateau...  


Inside had the greenery that I like...


The suites were named after famous vineyards...


I checked into a suite named Duoro Valley...


A gourmet lunch with wine pairing was the first item in the itinerary...


The lunch started with Amuse Bouche (Methi Matthi with pickle quenelle). It increases your thirst and it is paired with Sauvignon Blanc...  


Ricotta Kabab on Zucchini Carpaccio with onion tomato salsa. This was paired with Viognier...


Philadelphia and Dill marinated salmon with Cashew nut Upma, Haldi Mirch ka Jhinga with Creole vegetables with Saffron Makhni sauce...  


The Roti...


Basil Presto Chicken Tikka with caramelized onion. And Pineapple shooter...


And the dessert... Holy Basil baked yogurt with Doodhi Halva made of Bottle Gourd...


Scribbling the tasting notes...  


Next on the itinerary was a tour of the Winery guided by the Winemaker. It was totally informational. Fourseasons boasts of the most technologically advanced wine-making equipment. Shown below are the crushing, pressing, fermentation process and bottling...



Maturing and aging in oak gives the wines added complexity while at the same time smoothing out the tannins...


The large Barrel Room...



Wine Thief in action...


It was dusk when the winery tour got over. I ventured out to capture the dusk of Baramati...


It was a pretty decent sunset to shoot...


And the Sun goes down...


Meanwhile at the Chateau, preparations were underway for a Barbecue party at the pool side...


The party started with serving of eight different variety of cheese paired with sparkling rose wine. There were Kiwi, Strawberry, fresh Figs, and Indian yellow raspberry...


The savories included Tahina Marinated Lamb, Green Curry and Kadai Masala marinated fish, Cajun spiced chicken, Chicken Tapenade, Rosemary baked potato, Achary Subz Polenta, Chatni Paneer Tikka and Chinese apple filled with lemon rice...


The live music was an added nicety...


Yum...


After a good nights sleep, I rose up to see the lovely dawn.


I took a short breakfast and headed towards the vineyards to enjoy the early morning scenes. Danish Pastry seemed the right choice for a quick munch.


Played with silhouette...


The long shadows of the walkers...


The grape vine...


Close up of the Shiraz grapes...


And the Zinfandel grapes...


Some beauties by the road side...


More grapes...


Viognier grapes...






The weather was beautiful and the walk was so much fun. I didn't realize that we had walked so far...


There was this beauty in the no-mans land. Some kind of marking, I guess...


Back at the Chateau, I spent some time shooting the architecture...


The corridor... 


The tower...


The stair railings...


The courtyard...


Railings...


It was time for lunch. Amuse Bouche ( Raw Banana chip with Beetroot relish)


Sun-dried Tomato marinated fish Tikka...


Paneer Mille Feuille with lemon rice and Korma sauce...


Coorg Chicken with tossed vegetables...


Apple and Pineapple Jalebi for dessert...


Thank you chef Hitesh Gautam, Hyatt Regency, MG Road, Bangalore, to prepare some of the most innovative dishes I have ever enjoyed.



It was one of the most memorable experiences. I hope the Fourseasons Winery will turn out to be a great destination for wine tourism. Thank you K. Balakrishna, General Manager & Unit Head, United Spirits and the staff at the winery for making my stay a pleasant one.


Thank you Lakshmi Rajan, Poorna and Malavika for the great company.

For more information on Four Seasons visit: www.fourseasonsvineyards.com 
Follow Four Seasons on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FourSeasonsWines

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