Monday, December 29, 2008

Wayanad Diary

It takes a trip like this to realize that human beings can only be pale imitators; God’s own country deserves its name for therein lives Mother Nature decked in all her glory. Mortals like us feel overwhelmed when confronted with the abundance of beauty and are left to sing paeans. Indeed, what else can we do??

This trip – my second one to Wayanad – started off quite unexpectedly with Ashish taking the lead earlier by suggesting a vacation and then distancing himself with the initial plans. Deepak and Deepika took the cue and soon, an outline of a plan was ready. When it seemed that things wouldn’t materialize, by a stroke of good fortune, we decided to go ahead, much to the glee of the people who longed for such an outing.

We started off with Ashish and Kumar agreeing to bring their cars. After a quick breakfast in the outskirts of Bangalore, we gathered speed. Due to the bright Sun and partly because it was nearing mid day, when we crossed Bandipur, we were not lucky enough to spot any elephant quenching thirst. Saurabh shared his rosy memories of college days; how FR – Final ragging - scared him and his friends and how later as seniors, hostel life was a heaven.

Check post mania set in just before the state border when Deepak and Saurabh had to find innovative ways to hide the hard drinks we were carrying. We passed one check post after the other that I began to lose count. I had read somewhere that these things sometimes serve only as speed breakers. I am now more than ever inclined to buy this.

At around half past one, we reached the foot of Edakkal Caves following our guide. We were informed by Sunil that “Victoria Garden” where we’ll be spending the next two nights was less than a kilometer away. But the drive belied his claims. We were all taken by surprise at the location of the small house that some of us even wondered if we were being led astray. But, out of nowhere like a phantom metamorphosing, close to huge rocks by the side of a small hill, we saw the place.

The view from one of the huge rocks was breathtaking. Except for a white-red house, all we could see was greenery – here and there, some signs of order in the slopes, due to plantations. The silence was the first thing I noticed. Even in Coorg, since we had stayed close to the road, it was not a deafening silence of this sort that had greeted us. Here, it was a little weird to feel that silence. It was a bit scary at first before we got used to it.

The long drive had drained our energies and the lunch was welcome. As time wore on, we decided to take a walk and have a look at the surroundings. Gopal and I, with Sunil’s help took the shorter route to the parking area to get some CDs for the night. It was like a mini-adventure in itself. The narrow path with all its bends was like traveling inside a dense jungle. We were exhausted once we climbed back but our egos didn’t let us show it.

We found the group lying on the rocks and some eyes were half closed, dreamily. The Sun was about to set. Romance was in the air – nothing like nature to give fodder to the imagination. Ashish, the prankster-in-chief discovered some good shots for our cameras. The expression on the face of the person who was cutting small branches for the late night fire, when Ashish took over his job momentarily would stay with me for some time. It was one of amused disbelief and a playfully faint smile.

The time of the day was an invite to let one’s hair down and indulge to the heart’s content. That was what we did soon after. We started with musical chairs but the merry spirits weren’t quite kindled until Deepak and Vinaya agreed to do some arm flexing. In the midst of all this, we were all rechristened by Gauri!! Then, it was time for some music. Saurabh, Devesh, Vinaya, Kumar and Deepak took turns choosing the songs. We had to make do with the speakers provided and since the place didn’t have electricity supply, we had to rely on generators which added to our problems. But these minor hurdles weren’t allowed to spoil the fun once some peppy numbers came on.

To dance is to be unrestrained and forget to be self-conscious. Some of us made for funny couples while the professional dancers seemed to get tired easily. The first glasses clinked together and thereafter, time flew by. Before we realized, numerous photos had been taken. They make for funny viewing. When one doesn’t realize oneself in some of them, then it really means that one is getting accustomed to different sides of oneself. The majority would agree with me here.

Next morning, an early start was next to impossible. Once all of us got our share of hot water and space, it was nearing ten. I had to take a second bath as I got a most unexpected head massage! The whole group took the shorter route and it turned out to be a most demanding exercise for some.

Our first stop after a long drive was at Pookut Lake. The Christmas crowd meant we had to wait for boat rides and unanimously it was decided to give it a by. View point didn’t impress either with the sun blazing overhead. After lunch at an unassuming place, we reached Soochipara falls.

The last time I was there, we had decided not to venture into the waters. This time however, we got into the water, waded close to the falls and sat on small rocks. Droplets of water splashed on to our faces from the force of the falls. Gauri longed to move further close but Ashish didn’t budge. Deepika was lost for a few seconds. The spectacle before us was nothing short of dwarfing our existence. It seemed to mock at man’s vanity and with its sheer force, was the symbol of pristine Nature.

Reluctantly, we climbed the steps back to the parking. Deepak treated some of us to tasty Amlas on the way. Back at the Victoria Garden, the Sun was setting. As the shadows lengthened, the feeling was something akin to a child’s drawing book pulled away much to her disapproval.

We played Anthakshari. Why do old songs rule when it comes to this particular game remains a mystery to me. Is it because they are ageless and transcend boundaries? Is it because of the meaning in the lyrics? Is it because of the simple but soulful music and playback singing of very fine quality? Is it because they speak about raw emotions in a nuanced fashion that has become obsolete now? One would never know!

Somebody came up with the idea of telling out the first thing that comes to mind about every other person in the group. The air around grew dense with expectation and there was a little palpitation. Who wouldn’t be curious when judgments and first impressions are given a vent? Adjectives were hurled thick and fast ranging from smart and diplomatic to infectious and bold.

In an impromptu recital of songs, without any turns, we started singing. Saurabh seemed to know every song by heart. Kumar joined in with vigor now and then. I learnt later that when I left to sleep, the stage was set for a debate.

On the morning of 26th, I got up early and went for a walk. The Sun had just risen and the gentle first light seemed to impart a color like no other to the leaves and branches of the trees around. Nature was being stirred into activity. The first hours of sunlight are the best hours of the day for when the mind is fresh and the limbs strong, one feels immensely confident and happy in the World around.

After a good amount of stretching and delaying, we left at around 11. A long drive to Sulthan Bathery and a good bye to Vinaya followed. We hit the road to Pulpally on the way to Kuruva Island. It was undoubtedly the best drive in the whole journey. Tall trees lined the narrow road on either side and traffic was minimal. The occasional motorist was lost in reverie and more often than not was driving in the middle of the road.

My first ride in a bamboo raft was exciting. The raft floated innocuously, it seemed to take a life of its own and we felt as if we were being gently carried to the other shore. At the other end, we walked to a small water body. On the way, Ashish ingeniously made each of us pose scandalous and there were clicks.

We waded for a small distance in water that was knee deep in parts. The long stretch was beautiful with branches leaning out in deftly contrived angles. Time seemed to punish us when we had to move on to reach Bangalore before too late. A very late lunch at another unassuming place in Pulpally and the cars were loaded for the final leg of the journey.

We crossed the border as the Sun was going down. In the car, there was a minor recounting of the experiences in the last few days. It brought some smiles and some time later, Kumar and I found dreamy eyes. Gundulpet and its generous speed breakers drove sleep away.

As the car hit the Mysore-Bangalore highway, Bryan Adams entertained and kept us awake. Ashish seemed to develop wings and we were finding it difficult to keep sight of him around Mandya. Finally, we hit the city close to 11.

As we said our good byes, we knew deep down that this was one trip that would best be remembered for its share of generous fun, laughter, its high moments, its innocence and its success in drawing the curtains on a year of path-breaking events for this team.


saurabh said...

ultimate shiva

charan said...

no wonder.. a Good one 4m u !!

Shriya said...

Nice post
you can see some of my bandipur mudumalai wildlife / bird pictures at
Best regards

Baskar M said...

I am planning my next holiday there :)

The Layman said...

Hey.. glad to know u were at wayanad :)

Wishing you a happy new year!

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