07-Dec-2003 -- The four of us; Devendranath (Nath), Ananda Mohan (Mohan), Jagannath (my uncle Jagan) and I met at Jagan’s home in Bangalore at 0600 hrs and piled all our equipment, food and water into his Mahindra Bolero (www.mahindra-bolero.com) 4x4. It was going to be a long day with a lot of ground to cover as we planned to visit four confluences (13°N 77°E, 13°N 76°E, 14°N 76°E and 14°N 77°E)!
The first confluence we planned to visit was 13°N 77°E which was the closest and west of Bangalore. We drove up NH4 (National Highway #4) and turned west onto NH48 at Nelamangala. The maps showed the confluence to be pretty close to Kunigal. As we entered Kunigal, we turned left on to the Huliyardurga Road and traveled about 3.5 kilometers till we saw a turn-off on the right that seemed to go in the direction of the confluence. At this point, the GPS told us that we were approximately 2 kilometers from the confluence. This turn-off was a narrow dirt road mainly used by ox-carts and folks on foot, and it headed right towards the confluence. We were close to a village called Thapasandra. At about 60 meters from the spot, we pulled up at the side of the track and entered an open ragi field. It took just a few more moments before we reached our first confluence! It was 0732 hrs. The altitude recorded on the GPS was 764 meters.
An aged farmer was working in the field and he was curious to know who these gadget wielding visitors were. His name was Girianna and we explained in Kannada (the language spoken in Karnataka) why we landed up in the middle of his farm. I quickly took the mandatory photographs as well as a 360 degree picture sequence with my Zire 71 from which I have created a panorama from 13°N 77°E.
We wanted to get a photograph of the team at the spot but as there was nothing in the field to clamp the camera on, I requested Girianna to take the photograph. It took a while to explain what he needed to do since he had never ever handled a camera. I then took a photograph of Girianna in the midst of his ragi crop with the Zire 71 and to his delight, showed him the photo on the PDA itself.
After thanking Girianna, we climbed aboard and headed back to Kunigal from where we continued west on NH48 towards Hassan where our next confluence, 13°N 76°E was located.
Ragi: The Latin name of ragi is Elusine coracana; although it is believed to be native to African highlands of Ethiopia and Uganda, there is another view that ragi is quintessentially a crop indigenous to India. This may explain why it is alternatively called as Elusine indica in Latin. This so called coarse grain or poor man's millet is actually superior to rice or wheat in nutritional terms being rich in proteins and high levels fibre which makes it digestible slowly, thereby ensuring the release of carbohydrates in small quantities. This may explain why two ragi mudde eaten in the morning with a bit of chilli, onion or sambar may sustain the labouring farmer through the whole day.