Sunday, March 22, 2009

Part 14 - The end!

For a while we were lost in the irony of life – serious love and flirtatious love. But like everything else in life, you have to move on and so did we. KY switched topic back to travel – a favourite for him and me. The target was Prabhu who had recently been on a 3 week tour to Europe with his family as part of a tour package. KY kept questioning and probing and I added a few questions as the conversation proceeded.

You would remember that we came a long way uphill to get to Wayanad and now it was a rapid downhill ride. And on rapid descents some people get nausea.
Jabradamus revealed why he was occupying the front seat thoughout the trip – easy access to the window!
The feeling was contagious – Barath was the first affected by it and then others also jumped into the nausea bandwagon. YK, Prabhu and me were not affected by the nausea effect. I soon switched into the last seat beside KY to listen to Prabhu’s stories.

The train ride was really short with us waking up at around 4am to get down at Cochin. We then went to the BSNL guesthouse that Sachin had booked for us and we dived into bed to catch some sleep. The guest house was luxurious with ample space and all facilities – tv, ac, cosy comfortable beds, thick blankets, spacious bathroom with heater.

Morning we set off for the marriage at the church. With the entire proceedings happening in Malayalam it was tough for us to follow what the priests said. There were also a few hymns in Malayalam. There were some things that we understood – “You both agree to stay together in times of wealth and penury, good and ill health, times happy and sad”. That was a nice sentence – being together in every situation.

Lunch was sumptuous but the only problem was that we had a lot of time for our train which was at 7:30 or so. The time was 2:30 and one suggestion was to hop for some movie. But which one – either we had to go for Twenty Twenty (Malayalam) or Villu (Tamil). We knew that 20-20 was a good movie but weren’t sure of the Vijay starrer Villu; his movies were just not up to the mark these days. The scripts he picked were on a downslide from what everyone else said because I hadn’t watched any of his last few movies.
Prabhu was keen on Villu.
“Oh, he wants to go because of the heroine”
Vasanth on the other hand wanted to sleep!
“You can sleep in the film!”
Finally it was decided that we will check out the theatre timings and then take a call on whether it was movie or something else. The afternoon heat definitely didn’t encourage us to roam around the city as well. The theatre was close to the BSNL guest house and so we could surely go for a 3pm show if there was one. It was quite a comedy in the bus ride with us thinking that we had gone way beyond our point and no one able to communicate clearly with the conductor.
The confusion arose when people say boards that said, “Hey, we are in Ernakulam. We have crossed Cochin itself”.
We later realized that the bus had taken a circuitous route and we were still on the right track.

The show timing was perfect and since there was only minor support 20-20 Villu it was decided.
“Jabradamus’ second Tamil movie in theatre!”
The first one he went for was by accident; or rather being setup unknowingly. He thought we would go for an English movie but at the theatre the others bought tickets for a Tamil movie!

Since we had enough time for the movie to start, around 45 minutes or so, we took a walk towards marine drive. The heat was terrible and we had to abort the walk – we sat near the shore watching a few boats racing away on the waters.
“We could have gone for a boat ride instead of Villu”
“First half will be okay”
“Now no time for a boat ride – by the time they get the boat filled up it will be late”

The film was an out an out comedy in the wrong sense. The humor was wry and I wondered why most of the times in our films the humor had to be in the physical sense. We just couldn’t believe what they had attempted to dish out.
“And they were advertising this as some James Bond movie”
“The heroine is there for nothing meaningful – just for the glamour and nothing else”
“Wonder why they aren’t able to write a better script. They spend so much money and it is kind of ridiculous the way the plot is”
“It is actually a copy of the old hindi film Soldier”

When we reached back to our room we enquired and found that all seats except 1 were still in waiting list. And since it was a e-ticket on waiting list it would get cancelled. So that meant 1 reserved and 8 on waiting list – perfect!
I went over to the other room to announce the good news, “Great news guys – we have 8 still in waiting list – numbers 1 to 8 in the waiting list. Jabradamus got his confirmed!”
And then we evaluated our options – any other train or bus options possible.
The debate raged on at the railway station – I was worried about my leg; there was what seemed to be a different swelling and pain on my foot. I put some cotton and band aid to cushion the wound.

A couple of guys decided to take the bus; they didn’t want to travel by unreserved coach. The rest of us got unreserved tickets but I realized that it is better to take tickets individually than having all in one – because then whoever wants to go can go and needn’t be dependent on the group. It creates unwanted complications and in the end I was part of the group that went for the bus ride. And what a ride it was – one stop in between. We started at around 8pm and reached Chennai at 3pm! The unreserved travellers got a place to sit after an hour. There was a comical traffic jam we witnessed – on a narrow stretch of the main road, a tractor was stuck in between a large truck and the back of another vehicle. The truck was carrying the tractor, and somehow it got displaced from the back and as it slipped sideways jammed on to the truck which was coming in the opposite direction. Traffic came to a standstill for 40 minutes.

Long bus rides have their effect on the body and I had a swollen foot as a result of the ride; it was a bit frightening because it was my injured foot that was swollen. Doctor said it was less likely to be a fracture and I had to get a tetanus injection and stop tennis for a while till the pain disappeared.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Part 13 – Love as a time pass works out!

After munching on some chips and biscuits, KY started the conversation from the back of the van.
I won’t disclose who said what in this – I leave that to your imagination!

“Hey, tell something about your girlfriend” YK started.
“What to tell?”
“Start something interesting – how you met or how you made her love you or something of interest”
“That is all easy”
“Really, ok – then tell how one should make a girl fall in love”
“That takes time; you should go slowly about it”
“Ok, what is the first step to do”
“First main step is that you should get her trust”
“Her trust?”
“Ya – win her trust”
“How do we get the trust?” someone else interjected.
“Haha – he is asking so excitedly as if trust can be bought. Which market can I buy trust from?”
“Its like she should get comfortable with you – she should feel like confiding everything to you and trust you”
“Ok, how do we win the trust?”
“Keep talking regularly and be with her in bad and good times and you will win trust”
“Talking regularly means how regularly and how long?”
“Everyday you should talk; start with few minutes and then it will go on for hours as days go by”
“For hours? What do you talk for hours everyday?”
“Anything; sometimes we would play antakshri also on phone”
“Oh, even songs you will sing on phone”
“Ok, after winning her trust what next?”
“Once you win her trust then it is easy – it will all naturally happen. You will start talking about a lot of personal things and all”
“Oh; then?”
“Then if should reach the point where they are always thinking about you. Like they should feel life has to be with you”
“And then?”
“At some point you or she will say about love and it will just click. At that point it will just seem so natural. You shouldn’t force your way”
“Oh ho. Just like that”
“Ya, trust is the most important thing”

“And how long is your current love story going for?”
“A few years now. Had another one before that but that is over now”
“What? How many have you had?”
“Hey, these are not really serious ones – just for time pass you do”
“So you don’t intend to marry the one you love?”
“Of course not – marriage is arranged marriage only; there’s a thrill in that – some unknown person you get to live”
“Ya; I am never serious about these affairs”
“And here I am who keep asking girls with all the seriousness of marrying them and they refuse”

“Oh, really? You are serious about the ones you propose?”
“Of course”
We guys did laugh over it and that was the irony; you had one case of someone who was serious about commitment but love had never clicked for him. And there was another person who loved as a time pass with no intention of marriage and girls were mad of him.

The ironies of life!

Part 12 – We don’t market ourselves well

YK did look a bit odd in my large sports shoes, without socks and with a colourful shirt. In some ways he reminded me of captain Haddock! We had lunch in the place we had ordered but to our shock the owner of that hut said each meal costs Rs.35. He justified the higher price sayin that it was due to the plain rice he prepared specially for us; if we had asked for normal Kerela rice it would have cost only Rs.20! Huh – so, moral of the story is go for the local food rather than something different to experience the feel of travel and also to keep it cheap!
Next stop was another dam Banasura Sagar dam (Earth dam; supposed to be among the largest earth dams in Asia).

“Speed boats will have 2 hours waiting time”
“Oh; so that is ruled out then”
We bought entrance tickets and went in.
“So what else would be there?”
“We’ll just see the speed boats and come”
“What are speed boats?”
“Must be motor boats only – the ones they use in races, probably that variety”
For the entrance ticket they gave us a nicely printed card that could be used as a postcard. It had a lucky draw coupon on one end as well.And off we started on a walk – there was a nice long road and we walked it with no idea as to what we would see. There was still waters on the left and the road just seemed to keep on going.

“I don’t see anything around here”
“It is just a dam – so there won’t be anything”
“We’ll see what the speed boats are; at least get a glimpse of them and return”
“You’ve noticed one thing – we people just don’t seem good at making money out of tourism”
“This same place in US or Europe would have had a souvenir shop with books about the dam, special photo shots, some helicopter ride and what not”
“We don’t market it properly”
“There is absolutely no staff around to tell what this place is all about”
“SS, it will be good to start some tourist company. Where we get the best hotel rates for people, provide accurate information regarding the tourist places – make it like unravelling a mystery for them. Showcase our actual heritage and culture along with explanations so that they can appreciate it”
“Really, that would be good”
To me it felt as if India isn’t making the amount of money it could actually make out of tourism. There were numerous sightseeing spots all over the country and each place could have provided a lot of opportunities for employment to people.

After 20 minutes of walking, I was actually limping a bit with my wounded leg. “There’s the boat”. And finally we saw the speed boat. It was nothing but a motor boat – like the ones they use in racing competitions. There was a little park with a few swings and one juice shop at the end of the road. We had a drink, sat for sometime there and then walked all the way back to the entrance.
“Anyone has a pen” Karthik asked.
I gave him mine and he began filling up the lucky draw coupon that was attached to the entrance ticket.
“Who knows I might win”

“He is dreaming that he will win a honeymoon trip”

“He will win a trip to Wayanad with free stay in the same hotel” we all joked.

The last stop for today before we returned to the railway station was Soochipara falls. Guys slept off and I went around clicking snaps. I tried to capture rays of sunlight by changing the camera settings and it wasn’t long before my camera whined “Batteries low” and shutdown! So much for photography experimentation. At around 5pm we reached the waterfalls entrance. Again there was quite a way to go before we actually reached the waterfalls. Since time was running out we took a jeep and all of us crammed into that one jeep. I was the last one to enter and was literally lying on top of everyone else with my leg dangling outside the jeep! The driver raced downhill at breakneck speed.

Climbing down a lot of steps got us to the waterfalls. Vasanth and I stayed on top while the rest of the gang went towards the base of the waterfalls. Vasanth was saying, “I don’t like trips with a lot of walking around to do and all”“You prefer just visiting spots and moving on”“Ya, don’t like to trek and all”Each person had a different way of enjoying travel – some liked the adventure while some liked it calm.

Not everyone went into the falls to have a bath. Vasanth and I clicked snaps on the cameras we had. There were a lot of other people as well. After a while a group of college students came in and it was around 6:30pm when we started walking upwards. No jeeps were available and we had to walk all the way up! I was terribly hungry and bought some chips, biscuits and juice to carry along on our trip back to the railway station. Around 7pm we were on our way heading towards the railway station – a three hours ride that opened up an interesting topic of discussion.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Part 11 - Crocodiles aren't that sharp!

The stream had a few rocks in between that formed a broken path to the other side. There was no other way to the other side other than crossing this stream. There were a few other people as well in the area who were dipping their legs into the stream. The forest ranger in the area said that we can cross the stream.
“Go quickly guys; the crocodile is not too far off”
I wondered how the rangers were encouraging people to cross the water stream when we had seen a crocodile in the water some distance away.
The guys began crossing the river.
“Remove your shoes – it is very slippery and shoes will get soaked in water”

I reluctantly removed my shoes and stepped on the stones. Watery stones are really slippery but I felt that I felt more slippery without shoes! Having my shoes in one hand and camera cover on my shoulder I gingerly stepped on the stones. Viswa was in front of me with my camera on his shoulder. The rocks were mostly within water with just their top projecting above the water level. The water was flowing at a fair pace.

With us three-fourths of the way through I stepped on a stone, slipped and fell. There was nothing really to grip on to and one of my shoes floated away. The other shoe I threw over to the other side where the guys were standing. Fortunately the stream wasn’t deep and you could wade through the water which was only upto waist level. Perhaps I could have waded through the water instead of taking the slippery stones!
“SS, do you need a hand”
“It’s okay Viswa, will manage”

As I got up, he slipped on the next rock and fell! He managed to grip on to something and didn’t fall that bad. The camera also didn’t touch the water. When I reached the other side I examined my leg. I had a wound on the left leg, between the knee and the ankle and some scratches and minor bruises on my feet. The main wounded area had become swollen and first thought was what my mother used to say ‘swelling indicates a fracture’. The bleeding had stopped; my shoes and socks were wet and I couldn’t put them back on over the injury. Guys examined my wound while I wrung the socks. I walked barefoot along with the group and we faced another water body. This had still water and we waded through the water; we trusted the depth of the water bed.
“Jabradamus, we can now test our theory about crocodiles. A few drops of my blood will be there in this water – let’s see if it comes over!”
I didn’t go much further; crossed another still stream and found an area which was basking in sunlight. I put my socks on a tree trunk for drying; Jabradamus also stayed back to give me company. He did some photography and pulled out a very beautiful snap.

Ten minutes later the others returned and we were all heading back. We again had to cross the moving stream but this time few of us waded through the water rather than taking the stones. We would feel with one foot, test the next step and only then move on. Some of the guys felt secure walking on stones than with their knees under water and took the same path we came by. I came over to the other side and tried to take snaps of the worried expressions on those who were returning – worried about whether something nasty might happen on the next step.

KY put on my shoes while I put on his slippers and we waked back. The swelling on my leg had subsided but it still hurt when I touched near the injury. The return was quicker because we didn’t stop for any photographs. In 15 minutes we were back on the boat heading back to the entrance.