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The International Writers Magazine: India


The Serai Kabini
Marianne de Nazareth
If you are a bird watcher and a wildlife enthusiast, look no further! The Serai Kabini is a cut above the rest for a weekend spent watching your feathered and furry friends. An eight acre piece of prime property along the banks of the Kabini backwaters, The Serai Kabini is just a quick, comfortable five hour drive from Bangalore, in South India.

Lobby

A pair of sparrows zipped in and out of the lobby as we sipped our welcome tender coconut drink, on arrival. The thatched roofs of the buildings make perfect nesting areas for these little birds who seem to have dissapeared in Bangalore city. All sorts of theories from pollution to the change of building style, cell phone towers and manicured pesticide maintained gardens being attributed to the reasons for their loss. Obviously they were happy, chirruping away at the Kabini Serai in its welcoming, unpolluted air. 

As we walked towards our cottage red vented Bulbuls cheekily called out from the Singapore Cherry trees and a clump of golden bamboo had a pair of Turtle Doves cooing in the afternoon sunshine. The gardens at the Serai, Kabini are natural and filled with indegenious trees, except for the heavily flowering Brazilian Tabibuea Argentea beauty. The 20 cottages are aesthetically furnished with all the modcons but thankfully no TV. Large French windows open out towards the water and we mentally decided to snooze in the large hammock just outside once we had done with lunch. For those fussy about snow white linen, the Serai Kabini have sweet smelling sheets and duvets and a bunch of fluffy towels for the most pernickety guest, besides really snazzy showering areas.

We headed towards Flames the restaurant which had a lavish buffet laid out for lunch. Besides the large salad bar there are loaded veg and the non-veg tables! We tucked into shredded Lamb in hot bean sauce, cruchy water chestnuts in Three treasure vegetable in Hoisin sauce, and a saucily named Naked Fish had us all shovel a slice onto our plates and hotly discuss the name.
“ I enjoy continental cooking,” revealed Antony Samy the chef incharge of the kitchens. But everything including his traditional Avials, string hoppers, vadas and dosas had us throwing diets to the winds. His desserts of Blueberry tortes, lemon souffles, along with glulab jamuns and pineapple tarts had us showing off our native Indian sweet tooths as well with giant helpings!

ele The Boat Safari was my first and most definitely a ‘must do’ for anyone going to The Serai, Kabini. As naturalist Sugonto explained, “ all the watering holes in the jungle have dried up so the animals come out here, so you never know what you might get lucky and see.” We saw a whole group of wild boar and elephants besides large groups of deer. A jackal skulked in the bushes and a peacock and peahens scratched on the banks for food. On the back waters we were lucky to see snakebirds, cormorants and egrets really up close, as they were perched on submerged tree trunks. One sad sight was an egret which had died, asphixiated by the remains of the nylon fishing net of a fisherman, on one of the trees.

In the evening a bonfire was lit and guests sat around sipping drinks and snacking on masala peanuts. Stars twinkling in the inky black night skies, the breeze blowing off the surface of the Kabini and the mournful call of the Lapwing or ‘Did- you–do-it’ made for a pleasurable evening.

A regular jungle safari is exciting because one never knows what could be spotted at any given time. “We have seen a tiger on one of our recent trips,” revealed Ashwin Pinto, the GM of the property. So off we sped with hopes held high of a rare tiger sighting! Almost immediately we came upon a herd of Bison in a drying watering hole with a lone male elephant. The Bison climbed out of the hole and dissapeared into the dry jungles, with the dry fallen leaves crackling underfoot. Bird lovers can spot a large variety of Jungle fowl, Drongos, Babblers, Kingfishers, Wood peckers, the gorgeous blue Indian Roller besides the magnificent peacock perched high in the branches. Instead of a tiger we were lucky to spot a spotted Leopard loping across the road behind our jeep, besides large herds of spotted deer.

The Cloud 9 spa, caters to the luxury lover who enjoys a massage guarateed to send them to Cloud nine. Shakuntala the masseuse’s magical fingers worked out the kinks in my spine, with the hour long Flame of the Forest massage. The aromatic oils leave you feeling fresh and reinvigorated ready to get back to the city and take on the world yet again. The oils are not cloying and difficult to remove, which is a relief especially for those who are not partial to reeking of heavy based coconut oils. Check out the list of massages they have and choose your preference. Then climb into your hammock outside your room and switch off the world with ease!
hammock

The Kabini Serai is part of the Coffee Day resorts and Café Coffee Day, so is handled at a professional level, with no room for discomfort. For bookings contact:
 Coffee Day Hotels & Resorts Pvt. Ltd, Coffee Day Square, Vittal Mallya Road, Bangalore – 560001, India. Ph: +91 80 40012345, 40012259. Website: www.theserai.in 
© Marianne de Nazareth  April 2011  

Former Asst. Editor The Deccan Herald
Freelance Journalist
Adjunct faculty St. Joseph's College & COMMITS
http://mariannedenazareth.blogspot.com/
 email: mde.nazareth(at)gmail.com         

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