Peter's Picnics always had been a Pre-DOA kind or it was said to be jinxed of never being a picnic at all. Nandini, one of my trek mates had kept her hopes high about the picnic and had even brought a huge backpack with pillow (!!!), 3 sets of dress, lots of snacks and goodies..etc.. But this time we broke the spell and all of us had real fun and the picnic was a great success. I started from Bangalore to Tirupathi after a hectic work on Friday...day-dreaming about taking underwater snaps in crystal clear venkateswara pools. I caught the bus and reached Tiruapthi by 5:30 AM. In next 30 minutes Peter and all were in Tirupathi. There were Peter's Scorpio, 1 bullet and a plastic bike. Guru and Bully Brijesh were bikers. Diwi and Nandini were pillions. But I heard that Diwi was the super-woman of the trek as she was juggling between driving a Scorpio and a bike from Chennai to Venketeshwara. Nandini also gave her company by riding the bullet with bully Brijesh as the pillion. Inside the Scorpio everyone were half-asleep. We stopped at Bhagarpet and dumped vehicles at a home and took a Jeep to Talakona. We reached Talakona around 8 AM and ransacked two small hotels. Idlies, omelets and dosas were yummy. The jeep dropped us till the start of the trial to the falls. There was a huge crowd and lot of vehicles at that time and there was some shooting arrangements going on. Initially my imagination ran wild about National geographic channel coming to interview us as Peter had always been quoted as “expected the unexpected”. Later we came to know that it was actor Lawrence Raghavendra’s film shooting which didnt excite us much. We moved to the top of the falls and started our start with a bath in Talakona falls. The falls was amazing and it was like rain when it swung from one side to other dancing to the tunes of the wind.
Over there a group of tourists suddenly came towards us and asked us whether we were from CTC. I was so surprised about how they identified us as none of us were even wearing the CTC t-shirt. When asked, they told us that they had seen Peter’s photo in one of the articles and hence we were recognized. I was simply amazed at how CTC had spread its roots n had reached out to so many people in such a short duration. Wow!! That’s definitely a feat!! May be Peter could even start a consultancy about Brand-building and marketing... ;) ;). After clicking few snaps at the falls we started climbing up to the shed. Everyone was gasping and Peter carried Priya for a short distance as she was tired. After reaching the shed, we started towards our destination of the sweet diving pool of Venkateswara. We hit the jeep trial and were walking along it for some time. Then we took a deviation to the left of the jeep track which eventually took us to DFS, DOA trials. Along the trails we had an uninterrupted music station comprising of balaji and myself. We were churning out different songs from the 60’s to the latest ones and having fun.Even Brijesh was giving u company by singing tamil songs. After walking in bush, we hit the stream. The team had a break near the stagnant pool.
Everyone took some rest and started descending down the stream. The water level had increased comparatively to the last week DOA4. Then we stopped near another pool which tempted all of us to jump in. It as named as non-swimmers pool1. We had sweet polis and jumped inside the pool. Cool breeze, amazing weather, super pool and great friends company made this whole picnic amazing. We jumped inside and had different poses for the photos. Balaji was lazy and didn’t jump inside the pool as he preferred a nap instead. After that stop we descended in between huge rock formations. We climbed one side of the rock and had few photos. Soon we were at the top of a vertical drop. We moved to the left and started descending the steep down-hill. Bless the soul who invented jeans-“the saviors of our gluteal muscles”. Most of us slipped at many places sliding down loose rocks, jagged stones n thorny bushes which turned out to be literal hell for our butts. Everyone was clinging to the branches of trees and it was very slippery. All of a sudden a huge rock came pelting towards Arpitha and it just missed her by a hairline’s width. But later it was funny when I heard from Arpitha that she was actually praying at the last minute that the rock should hit her elsewhere except for her face as she was more concerned about the possibilities of getting a plastic surgery done!! Crazy girl!!! Another casualty of the steep down-hill climb was balaji’s pants as it got torn at all the wrong places n poor balaji had a tough time managing it :-)
After climbing down, the team had a bath in the falls. It was so chilly and invigorating just like a spa massage. Once done with the massage, everyone slept for an hour except for balaji as some worms from the falls had apparently found him appealing and stuck to him, giving him small bumps here and there. By 4 we started down the stream and reached non swimmers pool2 and decided to camp as Priya was tired. Priya, Arpitha, Ford Bala and me stayed back to start cooking and the rest of the team went to the diving pool. We started cooking rice and curry. When the team arrived back from swimming, they looked like a herd of hungry bulls let loose and immediately started barging on the rice .Myself and my assistant cooks started panicking as the curries were still being cooked and we were a little worried about the rice getting over. Thankfully Peter became our savior and jumped in between and saved the remaining rice for other curries. Quickly I prepared three varieties of rice. Bisibella bath, Pulav and Tamarind Rice. Priya prepared the Andhra‘s famous spicy potato sabji which was hot and tasty. There was also a yummy soup. I guess no other group would have had such a yummy buffet for dinner in the middle of the forest. We all ate heartily and in between me and Priya were toying with the idea of conducting some cooking workshops to breed more non-vegetarian cooks in CTC. In between there was a sudden announcement from Brijesh…I have heard poets quote “love is blind” . But I never actually believed it until I saw cupid striking the most unlikeliest people. A starry-eyed love-struck Brijesh happily proclaimed that he and balaji were officially couples and they turned the picnic in to their pre-honeymoon trip!!!! hmmm god bless them ;) ;)
Meanwhile it seemed that even the Rain-god didn’t want to miss out on the fun we were having and started playing peek-a-boo with us. All of a sudden it started drizzling and we rushed to cover our bags with tents. When we were done with it, the drizzle stopped, only to be resumed after a short while. This continued for some time and that made the atmosphere very cool and pleasant. We had a early night so that we could wake up early and have more fun in the pool. The team woke up at 7 and I went to the pool and waited. Since there were no signs of people I came back and saw that they had started preparing tea. Then we heated up the last night's rice with ghee and it was yummy. After filling our stomach we all went to the pool except for Ford bala who wanted to learn swimming in the non swimmers pool.In the diving pool Brijesh, Gowri Shankar and Guru started giving diving lessons to Divya, Priya, and Arpitha and for me. We practiced continuously and after a few disastrous falls, we were diving at last. Whoa!!! Must be the shortest crash course in diving!!! Getting inside a pool by diving is an altogether different experience and with eyes opened, it was mind-boggling. Meanwhile Peter, Guru, Gowri and Pradheep went to search for a new easy trial. Pradheep tried to follow them but lost his way to reach them. But somehow he found his way around and joined us. After an hour they came back and started the underwater photo-shoot with the entire team modeling for Peter. He took photos and videos of everyone under water and the bright sunlight helped a lot. The photos and videos were amazing. For once, Brijesh’s bullying skills helped as he gave a hand in keeping people under-water until the photos were taken, in his usual fashion of pushing people under water..
By 12.30 we started towards the camping spot. We reached the camping spot and finished lunch with chapattis and jam. Then there was a mad rush for sun-screens, with the whole team getting beauty-conscious after the photo-shoot I suppose. Arpitha was mixing 2 or 3 brands of sunscreen and was applying a thick mask which seemed to be impenetrable to even the UV rays. We started climbing up the stream to catch up with the CTC photographer’s trek. Spider-brothers Guru and Gowri climbed the right side of the stream to find a path to the split rock but it was too steep. So we dropped the idea. In another 30 minutes we reached near the small falls and we had a nice chilling bath and started towards the uphill climb. But this time the climb up was easier and everyone were up in the next 20 minutes. After a small stop at the top we started climbing down. Then we stopped at the final non swimmers pool1. It was refreshing and had few snacks. Then we started climbing up the stream to reach the dry small stream. After an hour’s walk we were back in the jeep track. We hit the deviation and took few snaps. Then we reached the shed in another 30 minutes. Peter asked me to get down and get a jeep as it was getting dark. But when I reached down, there was no autos and got the same jeep driver's cell phone number from the shop at Talakona. While he was coming from Bhagarpet, the team reached the Talakona temple and started having some rice and curry from a nearby shop. Peter tried to give us his usual “control your mind “sort of sermons to prevent us from filling our stomachs before reaching hotel bliss. But finally he too gave in for the temptation of tasty Andhra meals. We had our first round of dinner at that small outlet with S?mbhar rice, veg curries. We even succeeded in getting a couple of chapattis with chicken curry which was being prepared for the cinema crew. The jeep finally arrived and after 2 hours we reached hotel Bliss. We had our second round of dinner over there. After having good food at Bliss, Guru dropped me at the bus stand and the Picnic ended.
The team was full of fun and we were singing songs all through the trek. Balaji was keeping us in constant splits with his funny anecdotes, and Brijesh constantly bullying and imitating Arpitha’s cute voice and drove her to the extent of thinking about copy-writing her voice so that she wouldn’t be bullied in future, and to top it all Balaji and Brijesh were having fun coochie-coodling each other :-). Priya and Divya were diving, cooking and teasing Balaji. Pradheep was very silent and took some amazing photos of the picnic and great portraits of everyone at their best. Nandini as usual was energetic and always came up with her punch-dialog- "Polamma?" , racing ahead of everyone in the trek. Peter started thinking of another trial for DOA and marked those points. It turned out to be a perfect picnic with no surprises and ended great with very sweet memories.Written by: Senthil Subramaniam Kuppusamy
Organized by: Peter
Posted by: Karthick Sundararajan