Thursday, April 20, 2006


In retrospection it isn’t that abstruse to imagine what a momentary rush of adrenalin can do to your decision making faculties. More so when the subjects concerned are a group of four sprightly and excitable 22/23 year olds.

We, Rohan, Sidhant, Abhinav and yours truly, began unceremoniously on 23rd December - not being able to get seats in the second class compartments on the Kanyakumari Express. At 11 in the night, in Bangalore railway station, we decided (there was a cautionary voice in Sidhant but we vetoed him!) to make a Road Trip. On Bikes. To Kerala.

Our trip to Kochi, the first destination, sapped us. We were zombies by late Saturday morning. And then what transpired is what anybody will agree is the perfect setting for usage of “skin of the teeth”. Rohan, deprived of sleep, saw a truck motoring towards him and instead of moving away, charged head-on. He had blacked out! It was only the wild honking by the truck driver that awoke him and he veered away in the nick of time. This stuff looks cool on TV but when you see it up close it’s bloodcurdling! The rest of our drive was pedestrian, of course, and we reached Kochi (after we took a horrendous 80 km detour) just in time for midnight mass. It was beautiful all around and that somewhat alleviated our weariness as we crashed in at John’s (our trusted friend in Kochi) house.

Christmas involved a tour of Kochi- Fort Kochi in particular. We got a Christmas tree and had a quiet drink with John’s dad. On Monday morning, we left for Alappuzha (Alleppey), the backwater hideout. A backwater boat ride is like being in a moving lounge bar. You start from narrow waterways which opens into a huge expanse of spellbinding beauty. Lines of coconut trees border this watery boulevard as they see their reflections on it's shimmering surface. We spent the evening on the beach where the highpoint was a rendezvous with Benjamin, a fisherman, who asked us, in a hundred ways, for money before we caved in. Barring Abhinav we had relaxing massages (after 800 odd backbreaking km in 3 days) before we collapsed on cozy Y.M.C.A beds.

27th morning. We would be touching Kanyakumari later in the day. The thought tingled us. We made a stop at Kovalam, checked in a hotel and dropped off our baggage. It’s 90 km from Kovalam to Kanyakumari and we left at around 4:30 pm. It was a race against time and we made it 10 minutes before sunset on the southernmost tip in India.

When you are in such adventures you are philosophical at times but still somewhat concerned with everyday worries like food, shelter, etc. It's after you come back to the normalcy of your everyday lives and you look at people when they crib about their dull lives you feel lucky to have lived your life. You get a glimpse of that bigger picture which people talk about. At Kanyakumari, it was a lifetime lived in a few hours. Every moment is seared into my memory for keeps.

On our way back north, we spent a day at Kovalam- home to the best beaches in India. The sand is so soft and the water such a beauteous blue- you have to be dragged out from the waters. God sent a picturesque postcard and it dropped off at Kovalam. We stopped over at Kochi again, went on a village backwater ride with 3 charming European girls (Carolina, I hope you will remember me) and set off for Munnar on 29th afternoon.

Munnar is abode to Nature’s bounty in all its cornucopia. The green carpets of tea gardens on the hills seem in perfect competition and harmony with each other. Each is magnificent and none the poorer. The speed boat cruise on the waters of the Madupetty dam reservoir was breathtaking- the closest I got to the foreign locales which our Bollywood actors so regularly visit. We visited John’s resort, Windermere, a splendid locale, in the evening.

A word about John's dad. An opthalmologist (thats an eye doctor), he quit his job to build, from scratch, what is now this spellbinding resort. The entire plan was laid out as per what he wanted, even the interiors, and the result is sublime. The guests at Windermere like him and he is the same gracious host to anyone who cares to chance upon his beautiful habitat. Somehow I feel there is serendipity in my seeing all this. A leitmotif of following your heart runs through such stories.

On Saturday morning we began our final journey back to Bangalore. The drive was delightful ( save the mishap involving Sidhant and I where, driving like a fool, I skidded while negotiating a sharp turn on the ghats from Munnar to Coimbatore ) and we arrived in Bangalore on 31st night barely an hour before New Year. We had driven 520 km straight that day and 2500 km that week!

A lot of time has elapsed since that day and I realize that there was a certain discretion in our valour. What is free will for if not to follow your dreams?

I also ask myself - What do travellers do? I cannot help smiling as I write this:
They chase horizons. As we did on our way to Kanyakumari.
They visit Elysian Fields in their lifetime.
For all their troubles they don’t bring back much with them except for a good attitude. A view on life. A new perspective.
And sometimes thats all thats worth having.

Adventure does not lie outside a man; it lies within
- Anonymous.

P.S: Trip Details

Duration: 8 days
Kilometres covered: 2500 km
Bikes: Fiero F2 and Pulsar 180
Places visited: Kochi, Alappuzha, Kovalam, Kanyakumari, Munnar


Suhas said...

sprightly and excitable ??
I sure can picture jalan that way...neato!
I was planning on writing a pondicherry diary , in fact did too , but it my C drive got formatted :(. hope you do that one too..

satyajit said...

ya i can but then it wont match up to the pace of kerala..somehow it was less of an adventure even wit mehta's mishap! better you cover pondy:-)