Write up By Vishnu Praveen
Life is like Rummy! You never know which card you will get . The card , that might change the course of the game , the game of life .Your life , your choices , The way u pick things is the way you are bound to live. Like in Rummy , u add up the cards to form a meaningful sequence and emerge a winner ;till then ,you got to wait for the card that will change your fortunes. The card I picked , is the card that kicked me to 1700 feet above mean sea level . Boss waitees!,waitees! Its also an experience of 25 others, my awesome-co-trekkers.
6’5” Kumaresh , mentioned in a chat conversation that he is excited that he is going to be part of this exciting trek story !.. Thambi, you are already declaring it as exciting ah ?How really ? Lets see ..
Chennai -> Theni -> Bodinayyakanur- >Kolugumala-> Suryanelli -> Munnar -> Marayur -> Chinnar wildlife sanctuary -> Thoovaanam waterfalls -> Base station -> Centre station ->Kurangani -> Bodinayyakanur -> Theni -> Chennai Koyambedu ,Chennai
I entered the premises of the bus stand and met Satish and Bee –Attack Ganesh! , the latter had recently won a wrestling competition hands down against a bunch of infatuated bees. All that the bees wanted was a kiss , on whom they rightfully felt was their honey-bunny. They were my first contact . Tablet Aranya and Shoe-bite Shruti joined us too. We were scheduled to travel in SRM travels . Hema ,Lens Vishnu ,Mahindra Mahesh, Thiyagu ,Fibonacci Veera Pandy , Renata , Tarzan Vibin and Mano will be joining later . It looked like the driver was mad with frenzy to drive us out of the city. People were to join us later were tested. We had a short bonding session in the bus and people were mildly tensed as the organizer was yet to present himself.
After passing the toll gate ,we were to wait for them .The Driver and his chum expressed their deepest dissatisfaction about lack of discipline ,punctuality , municipality etc… But were artfully pacified and mesmerised by Kalai who held them in their deepest state of Hypnosis ( Driver : “Yes I am still driving , Yes I am still driving “ Cleaner : Yes I am being driven ,Yes I am being driven…. ).Finally, the last three to join , ran towards us in slow-motion just like in one of those climaxes of melo-dramatic Indian movies. There ! the bunch was formed , on course for a wonderful trek. The sun’s rays entered my sleeping premise in the bus and that officially marked the beginning of my settled our ‘debts and payments’ in a hotel nearby. We chose Hotel Raaj Bhavan for our breakfast. We greedily consumed stuff , knowing that we won’t have lots to eat on our way to the top . We had to board a bus to Bodinayakannur. After a brief travel we reached the place. Seeing the beauty of this landscape ,I felt it must be rechristened as ‘Bodhai’nayakkanur instead (Bodhai = Drug induced bliss). I heard mother - nature say “ Idhu chumma trailer dhaan ma! “.
Oh yes Mother, We are trekking all the way to see the ‘main-picture’ ! We chose a trail , started slowly up . The altitude gave us an illusion of sudden tiredness. Shruti reported the symptoms early and guess she even secretly desired for an escalator. I saw some small houses, which were those of coffee plantation workers , small time vendors , daily wage earners etc .On the way, I came across some Coffee bean-pluckers with hardened physical frame and friendly smiles ,slipped silently out of our view for their work . In contrast we have our urban folks (while going for work ) insanely pouring out expletives as they had to wait for 3 secs more in a traffic signal, honking loud , displaying their smart-assery and impatience on our roads ,(workplace and home) . Ha! I hear you “What boss, how can you compare their lives with ours?? “ Yes boss, Looks like we are all pluckers in some way. After a brief climb, we noticed that the village started to fade away in the distance.We were told that, there are no streams on the way, except for the one we just reached .At this point, and we moderately experienced the moderateness of this moderate trek. The cool water was so bledy inviting! We filled up our water bottles and filled ourselves into the small pools for a brief dip.
The bath was so refreshing and we trudged along steep slopes. I have heard Boss Ramesh say about a certain lone-tree that adds value to an already beautiful landscape. We headed towards that lone tree , just to give some company and ward of its loneliness. I saw the vegetation change gradually ; Looked like these hills sported different hair-styles at different altitudes. For eg :Hills with meadows -> Flowing straight hair-style . Hills with grasses -> Crew-cut . Hills having Long
trees with broader canopy-> Afro!.Hills having tea-plantations -> Boss !those hills are wearing WIGS, for it is not natural. And our Ramesh sported a different hair style too. (Somebody place a picture of him here )Now we got into a vegetation dominated by Lemon-grasses , with pleasant lemony smell floating as a result of stomping by 26 people . This slope was a bit taxing , just like watching a recent “Vijay movie “ ,But we know , we will ‘always’ get over it. With such an affirmation, we climbed to the spot where the lone-tree stood in the company of a beautiful Landscape. I think the trail on which we approached this tree was designed by Zorro” Zip-Zap-Zoom .It appeared we are the lonely ones in our gratitude and trudged along.. These hills stood like a band of brothers huddled together inviting us inside , into their residence.
We entered the hills with Afro-hairstyle. The temperature drop was evident and under the able guidance of Vibin we found a spot to sit, rest and of course Lunch.Here, Renata expressed her desire to Polish her Tamil. Emboldened by this opportunity, every Tamil speaking person contributed; Vibin was hell bent on teaching her expletives as he might have considered it necessary for survival on tamil mannu (soil). By the end of the trek we saw remarkable increase in her vocabulary .
By Now, people have gathered and treated themselves with a simple meal of “Thapla / Thepla” (Chappathi’s Nephew ) . Aranya taught us how to excel in the game of “stone,paper and scissors “ and I dutifully took some mental notes . Occassional wafts of cool gentle breeze and drop in temperature indicated that the day had passed its prime and slowly drifting into the evening. We got up , and happily started towards our ‘Jeep pick up point ‘ as Vibin announced that 70% of our trek for the day is over.
After a brief constant motion, we were greeted to the sight of tea-gardens( the hills with the WIG) and some settlements nearby . This also marked our trek’s end for the day. We had our tea made out of carefully picked tea leaves from The “World’s Highest Organic tea-gardens “. Tea-partner -Hema ,graciously offered her tea for my consumption purpose.We played around, posed for pictures (as history is considered very important ). And were announced that we have to move to the sun-set point , where you can see the sun being patiently swallowed by the darkness (ha ! big deal ! .Poda dei! You must have seen the view ) .On the way to
the point , I questioned my purpose of existence expressionlessly staring into the valleys and ridges , As my brain didn’t provide answers , I walked along.
Huffing n puffing to the point.. Sun waited for our arrival ; But looked like all of us wanted to defy gravity, by doing chest bumps in midair , High fives! , maniacally reaching out for the sky etc.. So that we can harvest maximum likes for our profile pics on fb :D (What if the earth stopped its gravity suddenly , just for mischief’s sake? In one jump all of us would have landed in the moon or back to our offices; both are same na? Barren n boring!) The sun was watching all this from behind a narrow opening in hills “Dei Chandramoulees ! Dei Chandramoulees ! What da! , I am going down now , take nice photos of me too , otherwise I will make ur life hell ”! The Lens men did a fantastic job of capturing our moments ! .Lens Vishnu , trembles at the sight of anything lesser than 50 kilos, for he carries a back-pack weighing more than that on his back , just to accommodate his Third-eye ,the Camera ; So did Vinayaka Moorthy . Unsure how Jagdish carried it,
guess he made his Third-eye vanish and come back at his whim ,Just like Lord Shiva. Now temperature attained its minimum , and people got into another layer of clothings. Minus-26 Vinayaka Moorthy shared his experience of how he went for sun bathing at -26 degrees during his stint in South-Korea just to test the level of human endurance in the cold , and declared that he officially got ‘Eskimo-ed’ ! And SRM Satish gently draped himself with a blanket carefully picked from shelves of SRM travels,solely for this purpose. We had to walk till Suryanelli to get our Jeeps.But then, Suryanelli had to wait for our arrival sometime in our next trek here.
Jeep ride !
We formed bunches, chose our Kerala registered jeeps. In our jeep were ,Shoe-bite , A tamil speaking Polish girl ,Spokesperson of Bengaluru aka Sundhari, Talkative Thiagu ,Myself ,SRM Satish,Bee-Attack .The aforementioned embarked the jeep that were waiting to take us to Munnar town . On the way, we saw the star lit skies and the town was slowly preparing itself for the nocturnal errands. One can get really obsessed looking at the sky , wonderful sight it was. Jeep gently, or rather, not very gently reached our Dinning spot.
Al-Ameen and sons were our hosts for the night. It is a modest place without walls , providing good food .By now temperature drop was evident ; everybody started to shiver and positioned themselves before stoves and steam of Al-Ameen cooking department, just to feel the warmth .After our mandatory pouncing into each other’s plates . We got into our jeeps to Marayoor. On the way to Marayoor , I again questioned my purpose of existence expressionlessly ,staring into the dark , As my brain didn’t provide answers , I listened to Thiagu and others providing free education to Renata about India and its varied heritage.
A cute little town , positioned on the foot-hills just to provide us shelter for the night. Sleepy heads got into sleeping bags above the terrace and treated themselves to the sight of starry sky. Rest, neatly positioned themselves in the guys and girls zones respectively. I had to conduct a secret operation to pass on some military secrets in an undisclosed location.Doing it fine, I was mildly dumb-struck seeing my prowess in covert stealth operations. I slipped into the blankets expecting to sleep. Difficulty to sleep was further enhanced by snore-symphonies by some Mozarts ; spent some time trying to identify “who’s snore that might be”? Dobak!! Fell asleep, only to rise again for another session of a covert military operation.Saw strong man- Sreedhar hunting for Volini spray, we exchanged pleasantries at , and discussed how India’s economy can be uplifted and discussed methods to unravel secrets behind cosmic energy coupled with atomic energy.
Dzien Dobry ! (good morning) Yes, I brushed my Polish and my teeth too. I again questioned my purpose of existence expressionlessly staring at the fruit bearing trees and rays of the sun drenching the hills and the ridges , As my brain didn’t provide answers , I continued to brush my teeth and walked with 6.5 Kumaresh for a cup of tea. The winding lanes, neatly arranged houses , occasional glances by the village simpletons , distant mountains ,shy children made this morning in the village ,so very special!.
Vicky n Babul and their dog Scruffy ,were our neighbours. Scruffy did a neat job of barking at us (and during nights ) , the strangers ;while Vicky and Babul were the kids ,trying to impress us with what ever knowledge they possess about their place. They showed us their prowess in dickilona, jalabulajungs, boxing,silambaatam, tyre-spinning etc ,which were carefully recorded with their father’s mobile. They showed us sandalwood trees as well, ha! They smelt ordinary. Apparently , there is a tunnel (building that must have been a humungous effort) from Madurai to Theni ,through which the Pandiya Kings smuggled their treasure away from the vandals. Vibin dutifully passed on this information just to enchant us more.
Slowly ,everybody got busy with their covert operations ;the difference is ,it is no more covert,considering it is broad day light and had to get pass a lengthy queue. Sundhari rightfully earned an empty tube of face-wash after somebody liberally used it as their body wash .Sundhari insisted them to attend a work-shop to understand the difference between a face wash and a body wash. But ,abandoned the idea since she has a business trip to Madrid this weekend.
By now, everybody had let their military secrets out and were ready to march ahead , not before saying tata-bye bye to Scruffy and it’s owners and to quite a few other citizens of Marayoor who graciously provided the trekking people with state-of-art facilities for conducting operations. We got into the jeeps , for break-fast. We arrived at a restaurant .Had our break fast. Stretched and yawned for a while and headed towards Thoovaanam falls , located in Chinnar wild life sanctuary.
Trek to Thoovaanam Falls
As we were greeted by fresh dungs and moderately fresh dungs of Elephants, some of us even thought we were going to see a herd trumpeting and welcoming us , but the guide thought otherwise and it happened likewise ; We just saw couple of squirrels, monkeys and more dungs . confirming that we are indeed in wild-life. After a brief trek into the wilderness, we were treated to the sight and sound of the ‘ Thoovanam Waterfalls ‘Oh what a beauty! ..Looked as if the water flowed out of a dairy farm , the water was pure milky white . It was VEEeeRRY NICE ! WSPAINALA! WSPAINALA! The Falls is located across the river Pambar and we carefully positioned ourselves on flat boulders to get drenched and wash off my ears to irrigate our rice fields; I am scared of this water-boarding treatment man!. After 40 mins, We trekked back to the Jeep pick up point. Shoe- bitten Shruti got tended to ; probably this is the first time in the history of Munnar trek, A shoe took revenge on it’s owner. The Jeep started to our lunching place in the town. Now we are well into Kerala’s territory.
We ordered our lunch . Just to educate Renata ,about Indian cuisine, Spicey Sridhar presented himself ;Spicey ,Not because he established spice route between India and the west, or nor was he from Andhra or Chettinadu kitchen, Or nor that he is another John Abraham , Its just because Renata feels so! Wonder why.My eyes took the toll of my lack of sleep .After lunch, I expected a good nap. But then our maverick driver twisted and tossed the contents inside the jeep ; just to give us some taste of his skills. Boss !my sleep gone!
The roof top Jeep ride
There needs to be something to spice up our travels .Something, to give an adrenaline boost , Something to make you grin ear to ear , These somethings were bundled into one and we were made to travel over the jeep’s roof. Our maverick jeep driver Mr.Raja suggested this move ;Thanks a trillion boss! . Suddenly every jeep got empty within and populated over the top . Our rear was dangerously positioned on the carrier of our jeep. We experienced the joyful ride of our lifetime. You provide a trip in your ‘Limousine ‘ Mr.Obama , it wouldn’t provide us with this much joy. Belting out back to back “kuthu” songs and jeep’s jumps over the bumps on the roads, neatly synchronized. Just to add more spice ,people danced over the roofs in seating position ; Divya took it to another level in this dancing department (photos here? ). We had to bend , turn ,dodge every other thorny bush ,creepers,climbers! without any expense on the fun. By-passers saw us with awe and moderate jealousy. Our bumpy ride was brought to an end at the check-post.We reached Top-Station and readied ourselves for our trek downslope to Kurangeni.
Top-Station To Kurangeni
Running or trekking downslope was much fun . Respecting gravity and dodging the path encrusted with stones of various sizes and shape was thrilling and so very meditative. Mano was the lead , and Renata ,Lens Vishnu, myself and 6.5 Kumaresh trekked behind . Mostly, I walked under 6.5 Kumaresh’s shade to avoid harmful sun light . My human sun-screen ,watch ful protector the darkened Knight !. Occasionally we diverted from our path as Renata and Lens Vishnu did a Columbus and determined new routes and felt really happy about it.We stopped for a brief time at Center station .We refreshed ourselves with Sherbeth and lemonade and kicked off again. Occasionally, we threw glances at the hills ,where we saw the clouds descending over the peaks and rays of sunshine bathing the hills by dodging the clouds. We saw the trail , the Zorro trail and the lone-tree, An impressive sight! I would have missed to spot a recently crowned Miss Universe, if she had just passed by at a close range. The view was that captivating!. After two hours we reached down , We stretched, some took bath, others tended their wounds and sprains , All of us had tea!. We felt extra-ordinary , relieved , realized the pleasure out of our pains. Our trek came to an end.We hired a van (Vibin’s idea of back-up ; What if we miss the bus? )to Bodi bus stand and a bus from there to Theni.
Awesome Singer Mahesh , managed to determine some tamil songs by the pitch and frequency and matched with hindi songs and sang them ‘aloud’ to entertain his die-hard fans of Theni.He ignored the warning signs of Kalai , now the result is, he is being hounded by people of Theni for autograph and performance in every gala event in their town. Dinner We got down at Theni bus stand . I again questioned my purpose of existence expressionlessly staring at the menu of the hotel, My stomach came forward to answer this nagging question instead of my brain ; the answer to which is to have ,Chicken biriyani at this place ,Which was awesome for a hungry young man . We exited the hotel munching a soul-stirring ‘Beeda’ .Thoroughly satisfied, we moved into the next phase, most difficult phase of bidding farewell. Lens Vishnu left for Salem. SRM ,SRS , KPN carried people back into their routine lives. We had brief pain-relieving sessions in the bus and settled to retire for the night. Praveen learnt the thumb rule of how not to place the thumb at sharp objects. It wasn’t a cozy night, knowing we would be back to the place where we started off to this wonderful trek. Oh waitees! , and it doesn’t mean we can’t start again.
I had set-backs n disappointments in life, all said and done it was my card, I know there are 52 different probabilities and 1000 other outcomes.I chose this card ,enjoyed thoroughly, I added it to the sequence . Waiting to pick more such cards to spice up my life , that might determine how successful or joyful one is going to be . Till then, this trek and trekkers would be etched in my memory , yes ! trek was a MANGAATHA DA!!! Thanks to Vibin the organizer , Camera boys and the awesome rest! ..Had wonderful time with each n everyone.