Protected: Wayanad: clean, friendly and breathtakingly beautiful (Travellogue Part 4)

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us & them @ munnar: a travellogue

Till we actually set off for Kochi on Friday evening, I was dreading itโ€™d be called off any minute. The couple from Dufaai Dubai might drop out, the couple from Kochi might want to stay back with the baby, the couple from Bangalore (me n the husband ;)) might miss our bus and not reachโ€ฆetc. But we did reach Kochi at 5.30 am on Saturday. And it was raining like the skies had gone crazy! ๐Ÿ˜€ Anyways, the tempo traveller came to pick us up by about 10.30 am, and off we went. The tempo traveller had seats that were swaying like a boat. And a whacko for a driver ๐Ÿ˜‰ So, when we started the climb towards Munnar, it was almost a 4D experience ๐Ÿ˜‰ Well, we were moving in all 4Directions ๐Ÿ˜‰ and even moved from within, by the pathetic PJs of the driver ๐Ÿ˜€

Of the initial 10 enthusiasts, 2 had dropped off. Well, it was 4 couples plus 2 single guys. So, when one of the guys dropped out, the other declared heโ€™d be too left out ๐Ÿ™‚ So, it was the 8 of us: (pic of us all) And of us 8, five were classmates. So, we were a bit anxious about how the other three would feel. We had back-up plans for everything else, but not if these 3 felt left out ๐Ÿ˜‰ But well, it was all like the proverbial eggs of the same basket ๐Ÿ˜‰ Probably why, the trip turned out to be as great as it was! Oh my. How much we laughed. All that laughing plus the boat-like motion in the bus finally made us all sick! ๐Ÿ˜€ Well, maybe it was also because of the 60 Ferrero Rocher chocolates that vanished in less than 10 minutes…mainly gobbled down by Gulfu, Jaya and me ๐Ÿ˜‰

We reached Elysium Garden Resort by 3.30 or so, because of the heavy and constant rains. We all trooped into all the 4 rooms and made all of them equally untidy ๐Ÿ˜€ And almost instantly, the cameras were taken out and the posing and clicking began ๐Ÿ˜‰

When I clicked a pic of the three girls,ย Merlin said โ€œPriya, you donโ€™t even know how to take photos. Give me the camera. Iโ€™ll take.โ€ And she clicked this one ๐Ÿ˜€

Every time weย went out on to the balcony to click a group pic, itโ€™d start raining and the winds would drive it in, right into the room. It was like the rain had signed a pact against usโ€ฆand would make sure we stay indoors all the time ๐Ÿ˜‰ Well, we werenโ€™t complaining. It was quality time we spent, getting to know each other, having limitless fun. And, we had packed playing cards and Pictionary and Ludo and all. So, finally, we settled for Pictionary. And my god, the fun we had. There was just so much cheating and screams and finger pointing and red cards and yellow cards and everything! Heheโ€ฆhere are a few snaps of what the words wereโ€ฆand how they were sketched. (For those who do not know the rules of the game, CLICK HERE! You should play it sometimeโ€ฆif possible, with a big group. It can be the best fun ever! High scope for cheating and calling names :D)

Well, it was fun! Prashant saying โ€œohโ€ฆithenikkariyaamโ€ฆAamayalle? Frog Frog Frog!โ€; and for โ€œsurfing the net:, drawing a cloud to indicate โ€œfoamโ€ฆsurf detergentโ€ฆand surfingโ€ฆโ€ ๐Ÿ˜€ :D; and Leena slyly pushing their token two blocks ahead every chance she gets; and Jaya slowly writing the word itself next to her sketch (but me the dimwit still not getting it right ;)) ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ We had about 2-3 hours of pure fun!!!

There were times when we all laughed out so loud, it was deafening. Like when Prasanth ordered โ€œnaalu chappathiyum oru chakan curryumโ€; when Jaya kept asking โ€œadimaly ethaaraayoโ€ too many times, that Prasanth finally said โ€œHo! Enthonnithu. Ethumbo ariyikkam :Dโ€; when Ragesh kept making the weirdest statements which we kept connecting with the gay community, like โ€œDa, nee kaalukal ingane vecheโ€ฆnjaan kaanichu tharaamโ€ ๐Ÿ˜€ :D; when Merlin said, in a most serious tone โ€œ…Why do you all keep calling him Rakesh? Itโ€™s Rageshโ€ฆas in RaGEYshโ€; when Leena asked โ€œPavaroor kalava ethiyo?โ€; I can’t think of anything I, Gulfu or Suraj said…but am sure there were enough and more ๐Ÿ˜€ Especially from me ๐Ÿ˜€

And then, after another round of photo shoots and everything, we all went off to sleep. Planned to wake up at 6 the next morn and go for sightseeing. We all slept through right till 8 o clock and woke up to constant rains again. Went back to the fun thing: photo shoots.

Leena had planned to have a black-n-blue and white-n-blue themes and everythingโ€ฆ.so we got all that done ๐Ÿ™‚ Gulfu, or professional photographer, was driven to madness by me and Jaya, making him click pic after pic of us both, till we finally got a snap we both liked ๐Ÿ˜‰

Gosh! We were having so much fun that we forgot to do the one thing girl-friends supposedly do the most: gossip! So, on the way back, when we stopped for lunch, we had a proper gossiping session as well. It was a laughing riot at the Maria International Hotel, Kothamangalam. But we got bored of it in less than 5 minutes. So we went back to what we were best at: making stupidly funny statements, one after the other. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Like Suraj kept telling me before we left Bangalore, the day we were doing countdowns for and waiting ever so excitedly, just slipped through our laugh riotsโ€ฆand we were back in Cochin before we even realised it ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But not before we planned out next trip: Malaysia in May 2011. Yes, itโ€™s a doubtful month (one that sounds skeptic), but we WILL go ๐Ÿ˜€ And then, little Ananya would be with us too! Yeyyyy!

We reached the same rainy Kochi that we left behind the previous day, at about 5.00 pm on Sunday; hugged, kissed and separated and went our waysโ€”everyone back to where we belonged. And, on Monday, back to work. I couldnโ€™t stop giggling now and then, even at work, thinking of the many funny incidents. I still am giggling! ๐Ÿ™‚ Next time, weโ€™ll make sure we carry a tape recorder along, so that the funnies can be recorded for later laughs ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜‰

A few good outcomes:

  • Got to know Lee n Gulfu are finally getting married. Yeyyyy.
  • Jaya quit her job, when she went back home and realised her baby had not missed her one bit the past two days! ๐Ÿ˜€ Between me and Jaya, we know why I say itโ€™s a good outcome ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ Sad though, that it wasn’t accepted ๐Ÿ˜€
  • The 8 of us have become closer, and know each other much better (so much so that weโ€™re actually sooo looking forward to the next trip)
  • Weโ€™ve definitely decided to make this a yearly thing. Next trip: Malaysia, Truly Asia ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Each one of us knows there are at least 7 people whoโ€™ll be there for us, at any point of time ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Weโ€™ve realised that one does not need to be constantly in touch to maintain the friendship/or to have limitless fun when one meets up. What matters is just the mental wavelengthโ€ฆ ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh that was one true-blue vacation. A real fun โ€˜meet-upโ€™. The best fun trip ever. I canโ€™t justify the fun with words. The rest of the gang who missed it: you guys missed a lot. And we missed you too! ๐Ÿ™‚

Life was like that! Fun, not obnoxious!

The only part of work-life that I enjoy these days are the 2 hours that I spend in the bus — one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening at night ๐Ÿ˜€

The instances of ‘life’ that pass one by — a couple in front of small juice-shops, the crowd around a pani-puri wala, the more affluent groups in a Cafe Coffee Day, a smokers’ group under a tree’s umbrella, a daily chat-point in the middle of a busy footpath — are priceless and has a nostalgic value that transports one to their own such days.

Invariably, every single day, when such instances pass by me, I re-visit my school and college days (though we never belonged to the affluent CCD types or the smokers ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). I think of the friend groups that I belonged to — which would fall into at least two of the above mentioned categories…and I long to go back to those days. Only, I’m not quite sure which group/period I’d love going back to the most. All of those are unique in their own ways.

And now, when I think of friends, I think of the number of leaves I must apply for. The early parts of 2009 (and the later parts of 2008 ) seems to be a marriage season for my friend groups. Since August 2008, already 7 friends of mine have got married — 2 of them are on queue, and will be married soon!

400_f_4240823_icbio7rvcubdjz8yrxxywbedhlbf8adhThe most fun, I’d say happened during Post Graduation Days. I did my PG in a college that had (still has) a dictator for a director…and the most unbelievable rules. Our batch, the only all-Malayalee batch till then (among the different streams of courses, and among the different batches in our own stream), re-wrote a few lines in the college’s proud ‘disciplinary’ history.

We bunked our mid-semester exams. Something no one till then hadn’t (and wouldn’t) even dreamt of!

We were 15 of us, from various parts of Kerala. When chicken pox broke out in the college and the hostels were vacated for quarantine, Iย  declared that exams’d been postponed (I and Merlin were the only hostelites) — and all of us happily went home! In fact, when the class rep called us all up the next day morning to inform us that the exams were not called off, we were all in various parts of the state and simply refused to return! ๐Ÿ˜€ For the same reason, ours became the only batch which got a mass suspension! ๐Ÿ˜‰

The icing on the cake was when, during one of our film production classes, we were asked to write a small 5-minute script — any plot, any idea, any genre. We presented a spoof on an issue that’d popped up between the Director and one of our classmates.

There was a bus strike on a particular day, and this classmate of ours, who comes to college in her own car everyday, took a leave and cited the bus strike as an excuse. The Director was furious! What followed was a major blasting session in his room — she was asked never to enter the college campus in her car! ๐Ÿ˜€

With this incident in mind, we scripted the following story:

A few points: The college’s name is SCMS; the Director’s name is Mr Pramod Thevannoor (who is a renowned smoker ๐Ÿ˜‰ ); our roll numbers were ‘FP – xxx’. I and Manju (another of my classmates) actually went up to the front of the class room and enacted the whole thing! ๐Ÿ˜€ And so went the ‘script’ :

This is a real life story…a short one…just two days old…the story of Candida Joseph! Candy was shocked when the faculty assistant barged into the class and announced that HP-176 was to meet Mr Priyesh Perumbavur, with immediate effect! From her very first day at MCSS College, she had realised the mistake of her lifetime — joining there!! Now with this added headache, reluctantly she walked to the Corporate Office. The issue was simple: why was she absent the previous day! That too, when there was a bus strike going on..!! Waving her rejected leave application on her face, the Director was demanding for a reason. Fighting the clouds of cigarette smoke in the cabin, she racked her brain for an apt explanation. Was it her fault that everyone on campus knew she drove to college in her own car?? Obviously not!!ย  And the Director was not at all amused by the bus strike story. His decision was rather quick…she was expected never to take a leave again. And not just that…she was banned entry i400_f_4750686_vwhdmotiz65ge5kqokipdnaj6i0tfnq1nto campus if she came in any vehicle owned by her or her family!! The watchmen were told not to let her enter the college if she did so…and they jumped with joy!! Candy was flustered…depressly oppressed. What the **** is his problem? Candy set her mind on revenge!! REVENNNNNNNGE (BG Music:tatata tatataaa…Sethuramaiyer CBI tune) Money was never a problem for Candy. In a couple of days, MCSS had a new neighbour! Whozzat??? Candy! She bought a plot, right next to the college premises!! Not only did Candy come to college everyday, she came in her own car…and where did she park it?? In her new plot, her very own parking area…right where the Director could see it through his window!
A new beginning…… and……. Thank You…!

Yes, obviously, the Director had his own sources; he got to know and was furious! The funniest part was that the classmate who depicted ‘Candida’ was on leave the day we did this scripting exercise. But the next day when she came to college, she was called again by the Director and asked to stay away from college until she brought her parents and apologised to the Director! ๐Ÿ˜€

Well, we had a lot of explaining to do to the poor girl who was at a total loss! ๐Ÿ˜€

Those were the days! Miss all you guys and gals! Sigh!

Look forward to a one-hour bus journey tomorrow too…and look forward JUST to that! ๐Ÿ˜€

And yea, “Hi everyone. Just to let you now that I am alive!

Onam…the king of festivals ;)

The oonjaal beside the athappookkalam ๐Ÿ™‚

Ellaavarkkum ente hridayam niranja Onaashamsakal ๐Ÿ™‚

Onam…the favourite festival of the Malayali ๐Ÿ˜€ Onakkodi, athapookkalam, oonjaal, pulikali, onathallu…and a grand sadya ๐Ÿ˜€

He's generally good humoured...wasn't served promptly at someplace, i guess! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Onakkodi: It’s the most sought after part of every Onam — a new apparel! On a Thiruvonam day, every Keralite wears a new dress. The head of the family is supposed to gift onakkodis to all members of that family. Well, the head of mine gave none. So well, I bought it for myself ๐Ÿ˜›

Athappookkalam: For 10 days, every single house adorns a ‘flower-carpet’…to welcome Mahabali, the cute, pot-bellied cousin of Santa Claus (they look so similar; only, this guy has no white beard, doesn’t ride on reindeer-sledge nor says ‘ho’ ‘ho’ ‘ho’! ๐Ÿ˜€ ) Kids wake up early morning, go hunting for flowers and come back with a variety of them — this is the one time no one screams at one another for ‘stealing’ flowers! ๐Ÿ˜‰ We didn’t make any — for lack of space (both in and outside our house) ๐Ÿ˜€

Oonjaal: Temporary swings are put up in the courtyard…and all the kids have a swinging time! There was no swing at my place…but well, I’ve been having one swing of a life lately, so no issues there!

D

Tiger tiger, burning bright!...a pulikali in progress ๐Ÿ˜€

Pulikali: This is the most fun of all…doesn’t the picture say it all? People (mostly kids) dress up as tigers/leopards and dance all the way…in the middle of the road ๐Ÿ˜‰ (I feel I resemble a meerkat more — in both looks and behaviour — than a tiger…so, have never participated. Moreover, it’s just for guys ๐Ÿ˜€ )

Onathallu: This is a spoof on the whole concept of ‘sharing’…we just hit each other real hard and call it Onathallu, just for the heck of it. I’m more of a receiver than a giver ๐Ÿ˜‰

And then…the sadya! Aaaah…the most satisfying part of the festival ๐Ÿ˜‰

P

That's the top-view of my dining table. Am drooling at the sadya; granny wasted no time in just drooling, though! ๐Ÿ˜›

A full-course lunch, with banana chips, jaggery chips, pappads, a banana, 3 pickles, a ‘kichadi’, a ‘thoran’, an ‘olan’ an ‘aviyal’, a ‘koottucurry’, ‘parippu’, ‘sambar’, ‘pulissery’, ‘rasam’, ‘buttermilk’ and 3 varieties of payasam — all served in a plantain leaf! Now you know why Mahabali has a pot-belly ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’v developed one too…now, dieting it away!

And oh yes! During Onam, a roughly 4-km stretch in Trivandrum is fully illuminated from 6.30 to 10…for 10 days. The crowd is amazing…and only increases by the year! I went for a walk with my brother “light kaanaan“…it was fun! I had a beautiful, fun-filled Onam. Here are a few pictures he clicked…

P.S.: It was Amma’s birthday on 12th! We walked into the kitchen at 12 a.m. to wish her and lo! She was chilling out — literally! She was almost inside the fridge…though I’ve no clue what she was thinking! A cool birthday? And when my brother and I sang “Happy birthday to you…” and “Santhosha janmadinam Ammakku…” in unison, she gave a start, wheeled around and stared at us. She then blinked thrice. Then her eyes lit up and with an “Oh…12th!”, she thanked us and graciously accepted our hugs, kisses and the gifts ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh yes, shall convey each one of your wishes to her ๐Ÿ˜‰

Illiteracy has literacy in it !

Disclaimer: This is no longer the Booker-winning material I’d promised ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ This post is just random ramblings of mine, after I lost faith in KSEB (Kerala State Electricity Board), my computer, my mind and my memory. ๐Ÿ˜€ This has been typed in less than 10 minutes. Saved before I log off / power goes off. Published before reading it even once, before checking for literary quality.

Title inspired by Suda’s post here. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Post inspired by my recent book-shopping experience! ๐Ÿ˜€

The plan had been on for almost 3 days. The first day, my friend ditched. The second day, my memory ditched. The third day, gmail ditched! ๐Ÿ˜€ (kept chatting and didn’t notice the time). Finally, I decided to get the mission accomplished, come rain or hail. Well, came rain! ๐Ÿ˜€ (Thank God dad let me take the car…er er…go with my bro in the car, I mean…I drive only in race courses ๐Ÿ˜€

Walked into Book Store 1 with a lot of joy…and stopped short when the door closed behind me! Have you people ever strolled into a room in the most casual way, expecting it to be deserted — only to find it milling with a lot of people? Well, something of the sort happened — only, it was the other way round! ๐Ÿ˜€ After squeezing my way through the eternally crowded Crosswords and Landmarks of Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore, entering a book store and finding it totally empty was like a punch on my face! Hehe…there was just me in there! And oh yes, the shopkeeper too! ๐Ÿ˜

After getting over the shock (and the shocked expression of the surprised shopkeeper ๐Ÿ˜€ ), I went towards the first row of books…I had to find Namesake, and get it couriered asap to a friend! So I decided not to spend too much time browsing and ask the shopkeeper instead…and well, the poor guy also must be quite bored, considering the crowd in that place! ๐Ÿ˜€ My conversation with the shopkeeper (Sk) that followed:

Me (smiling): Hi…do you have this book called Namesake ?

Sk (blank stare, then enlightened smile): Aah, yes… (comes out from behind the counter)…Ummmm…Baby’s Day, right?

Me: What?! No no…Namesake (wondering if there is a book called Baby’s Day at all)

Sk (walking around 2 shelves): Mmmm…aha…uh uh…what’s the name of the book again?

Me (trying to be polite and helpful): Name. Sake. Namesake. Remember? It was made into a movie and all…with Tabu in it…

Sk: Who’s book is it? Author’s name?

Me (rolling eyes): Jhumpa Lahiri…Indian author.

Sk: Hehe…no lady…I’m asking for the author’s name!

Me (at the height of sarcasm): Ente ponnu maashe… ithrem budhimuttipichathil njaan athiyaayi khedikkunnu… thaangal avide poyi irunnolu tto… njaan thannathaane kandupidicholaam… please… onnu pokuo? (read as “Get lost, you duffer!”) ๐Ÿ˜€

I never found the book. I asked for 5 other books. He had heard of none. And it’s considered one of the best book stores here! “It’s out-of-stock”, he said sometime later. (Bah! He doesn’t even know which book he’s talking about!) ๐Ÿ˜

Book Store 2 —

Me (smiling): Hi…do you have this book called Namesake ?

Sk (blank stare): What? Who is the author?

Me (pissed already; rolling eyes): Jhumpa Lahiri…

Sk: Enthu? Aaru?? Thelichu para koche!

Me (in my mind): Thelichu parayaan sowkaryamilledo… panna ma… ma… allenki athuvenda… mathanga thalaya ! ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€

I walked out!

Book Store 3 —

Me (with a grim face and no patience): Excuse me, there’s this Indian author called Jhumpa Lahiri…I’m looking for…”

Sk: Namesake ? I’m sorry, it’s sold out. We’ve ordered new stock, though! We do have her latest, Unaccustomed Earth. Would you like to buy that?

Me (highly impressed and satisfied; wouldn’t have cared if I died that instant): Oh! Yes, please! Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚

I bought it though I didn’t want it!

They say Kerala is the most literate state in India — with a whopping 90+% literacy and all that…well, from what I see, literacy stops at being able to write, count and read basic stuff! There was an article I read recently which said those Keralites who were once honoured for attaining literacy now hardly knows how to write their very names! It spoke of this lady who was honoured high up on the stage before a thumping crowd of one lakh people and became an instant celebrity 11 years ago as a neo-literate. She now represents the nearly 12 lakh people who have lapsed back to illiteracy — and has trouble writing “Kerala” in Malayalam! Height of irony, I say!

Why blame poor Sk for not knowing ‘Namesake’ ? (I was frustrated that a book store owner doesn’t know the books’ and authors’ names. The poor thing’s out-of-touch with the literary world that does not exist anymore in the country’s most literate* state!) No one reads anything any more! From what I see, libraries will soon become burial grounds for the dying books in it! Book stores will close down and these spaces would be taken up for political party meetings and dharnas ๐Ÿ˜€

Dharnas and march pasts every other day! Hartal — a new right and a colossal decree that brings cities to standstill — the right of every citizen, the hatchet of every party. Active strikes that house itself in front of the state capital’s Secratariat for days together…students who throw their colleges/education to the devil and risk their lives for the various Student’s Party(s) that take birth everyday. There is no hope for Kerala…except for one —

The only hope Keralites can now have for this naturally beautiful place’s salvation is to leave it alone and go off to Bangalore like I did… (er er…I meant leave the State and go elsewhere! ) ๐Ÿ˜€

Kerala — God’s own country. Yet, God is on vacation elsewhere, playing with ‘yo-yo’s ๐Ÿ˜€

*About literacy, on 19 January 2007, DNA reported that โ€œKerala still rulesโ€. Wikipedia says โ€œMizoram has topped the list with 91.1 % literacy. Kerala comes a close second with 90.8% literacy rate.” (This wiki-page was last updated on 10 August 2008…so couldn’t be too old an article. If it’s wrong information, please blame Wiki (and anyone who knows the correct figures, please update! ๐Ÿ˜€ )

Image coutesy: fotolia.com