A few turned impatiently in their beds in the anticipation of the trip. Some other unfortunate ones missed on the sleep because of the work. After days of waiting, the sunshine brings the cheers today. We gather near our office gate and wait for the vehicle which is to take us to Waynad - literary
The motion of the vehicle puts Amit into action. With his hand glued to his camcorder, he starts interviewing the people. In next three days, he will use that camera so much that I will start wondering if he was born with his hand tied to it. Sanjay and the Chandans(by now you should know this is not about a couple) voice their opinions about the probable winner of the fashion show which is planned for today night. CM particularly stresses that a certain oomph factor will eventually decide the winner. Udhaya puts a brave face when asked about her lack of understanding of Hindi. She is indeed courageous – the only one in the dozen not to understand the language and still decides to come. Though we give her bravery award for that, we make sure she keeps the wonder and horror on her face by using Hindi as much as possible. Amit asks me if the trip will turn out more enjoyable than the planning we carried out for last few days sitting in our office amphitheatre. What a thorough planning Amit has done for the trip – the only way it can go for toss is if the 24-hours day changes to something else! I am sure the trip will surpass the fun of the process of planning. I have this belief that all the trips I go on turn out quite eventful, sometimes a little uncomfortable and chaotic but always memorable. Meanwhile Rashmi and Vidhya, like good and caring Indian ladies, prepare vegetable sandwiches for all of us. That is the advantage of, not the only one though, travelling with a woman. You can take her out of kitchen, but never a cook out of her. Without them we will be waiting for the next good breakfast joint forever. You see, men know how to remain hungry; they seldom know how to prepare food.
Once Vish, Anu and Gunjan board the TT, we are served with sandwiches which I have been guarding with watering mouth till now. Anu, in spite of meeting us first time, gels with everyone without any strain of extra effort. A series of karaoke songs follow. We soon realize that the TT is somewhat uncomfortable and we are cramped for space. We choose to ignore that fact as it is not going to increase the space in the vehicle. After a while, we start playing
Amit tries to be adventurous by sitting on the side-rest of a seat and falls badly. He whispers in my ear to check his jeans from behind. I explode in laughter when I see a window size opening just above his left knee! It stretches vertically upwards to you know what. Between those fits of laughter I manage to seal the opening with two safety-pins. Amit escapes the embarrassment and is much relieved. He changes his jeans when we stop at Kamat Lokruchi on
We spend the next few hours playing games, singing songs and dancing. We are forced to take lunch at an Udupi restaurant in Gundulpet since the time is running out. Next time we stop at the forest department check post somewhere in Waynad. While Pervez, our driver, goes to the office for permission, we climb up the TT to show our Chhaiya Chhaiya moves. On the other side of the road are the ever-expanding bamboo trees. We slip inside and click some photographs for memory. The remaining part of the journey is spent in silence as the most of us are tired and feeling sleepy. We check in hotel Haritagiri in Kalapetta at 4:30 in the evening.
After freshening up, we set out for a walk. We get some refreshments at
The ladies take their turn for catwalk after that. And you immediately notice the difference. Every inch of the detail is taken care of, starting from the minute details of dress, the footwear, the hat, the walking style, the expressions on the face, the positioning of the hands on the back, anything and everything. And here I am, in a t-shirt and denim which is not less than three years old and worn out. Thank God, I did not win in my category. It would have been a shame and a disaster for the fashion industry! When we were planning for the trip, I noted that men love ideas, and the women love the details. Well, I did not think then that they are sticklers for every detail. Probably I did not go into the details much. Irrespective of the details, they are certainly capable of the oomph factor which CM so much expected. Bharati gets the winner’s trophy for female category, while Rashmi runs away with the best model among the dozen of us. As the ladies show their beautiful legs for the camera, it reminds me of Saadat Hasan Manto’s letter to Uncle Sam in which he talked about pretty legs of American ladies.
We have a short –ok, not quite short! -drink session while the ladies have dinner. It is time to hit the beds and we cannot wait any longer.
Day two starts very early. CB gets up first at 6:00 AM and then he makes sure both CM and I listen to him. He shares some interesting anecdotes and passes some knowledge to us. I call it guru gyaan and from that moment onwards, he becomes Chandan Baba for me. All of us gather in Amit’s room and make jokes of each other. CB, in his own humorous style, notes how CM’s heavy and loud breathing in the night made him believe there was a storm passing by. The fashion show is still the most talked about thing. We decide to get ready and meet for breakfast. After a heavy breakfast – we may not get proper lunch – we leave for Banasura Dam. Considered to be the largest earth dam in
The water is crystal clear. The clear blue sky and the greenery on the hills give it hues of beautiful blue and green. When the sun rays hit the water, the optical effect gives the impression as if diamonds are generously spread on waterbed. It is quite tranquil. Breeze blows through and sends the mild waves of water hitting the shore. We delightfully track the waves. As the waves hit the stones, it produces nice low sound as if stirring a soul with gentle care. A solitary bird comes down hurriedly and flies over the water like a hovercraft, picking some fish in its beak. CM or Vish throws a stone in water which breaks the spell of silence. We watch the whirls touching our feet. Then they start singing thehre hue paani me kankar naa maar, saawre; mann me halchal si mach jaayegi, baawre! - Do not throw stone in the steady water; it creates ripples in my heart. By now no corner of the heart is untouched.
After noon we start for
We get the tickets for the boats which carry us inside the island. There is a long queue of people waiting for the boats. It takes some amount of waiting and shouldering to get our turns. The trekking starts as soon as we land on the other side.
While returning back, instead of crossing the river four times, we take a boat to the other side. It is rather a simple structure of bamboo sticks made like a floating carpet. No rafts are used to move it in the water. Instead a rope is tied to a tree from one riverbank to the other. The boat-like structure moves ahead as you pull the rope. A turtle is seen on a far rock sitting meditatively. That ends our trekking expedition on
As we head back to the hotel, we see sun playing hide-and-seek with us in the winding roads. CM notes that in
The next morning also brings a little sadness – we have been enjoying together for last two days and it will be over today night. We want to make full use of our time, so we take breakfast and leave for Soochipara waterfall. After about a 2 km of walk through woods, and some downhill climb, we reach to the fall. The first thing you want to do when you see it is to go inside the water and reach to the bottom of the fall. We all oblige to that feeling. The rocks are slippery but it does not hamper our spirit. We sit at the bottom of the fall, enjoying the water hitting our backs like stones. CB does not come inside; instead he sits on a big rock and watches us as well as meditates. Later he will share his keen observations with us. We scream, dance and sing, celebrating the nature. After an hour or so, everyone else comes out of water while CM and I sit there, appreciating the waterfall. We thank God for making such a beautiful world.
We line up on a long rock to dry ourselves. I feel so much cold that my body shakes violently for long time, as if it received an electric shock. When we are about to start for the uphill climb, Rashmi suddenly faints on a rock. Udhaya manages to catch her and lie her down. She tries to bring her to senses. I shout to Vish to throw water bottle and glucose. After spraying some water on her face, she regains her consciousness but still feels very weak. I give her glucose and a few seconds later she is back on her feet. But that incident gives a little scare to me. Though I like to travel alone once in a while, I fear what will happen to me in such situation. What if I die in the lack of any first aid? Surely, the death in the cradle of Mother Nature is the most dignified one, but I want to live and enjoy every moment. That thought makes you more responsible and caring. You want to take care of your near and dear ones. For once, you do not want to jump the rock, cross the water and reach to the other side before anyone else does. You do not want to show that you are the most adventurous and fearless. You want to stay behind, watch the steps of your friends and give them hand if they falter and hold them if they topple.
Taking frequent breaks, we finish the uphill climb. We buy some souvenirs and then leave for the hotel as it is already 1:00 PM. After lunch, we say goodbye to the hotel Haritagiri and start for
We bring back lots of memories from the trip: from the highs of the waterfall to the lows of the faint episodes, from the catwalk to the boys’ talk, from the falling down in the river to the falling down laughing while watching the mujra, from the tranquility of the water to the shrills of frequently exercised vocal chords. The treasure trove is enriched with the finest of the jewels. They will shine forever.