Journey home…

The constant cruise, neither too slow to make anyone whine nor too fast to miss out the little details of outside through the door. A gentle breath of wind, neither too strong to put you in discomfort nor too soft to go unnoticed. The melodramatic nature, greeting me with sun not too harsh or droplets of rain depending on when I am traveling.  Irrespective of my travel dates, the view outside is always green and smells pleasant scent , reminding me this is how Kerala smells.

The last leg of train journey to my little town has been my personal favorite for more than past twenty years. A flash of remembrance I long to wander through alone, more than staying in Kerala. Somethings are better unchanged.

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Reasons to drive through Valparai and a belated Happy New Year!

Hello All, 

Happy New Year 2017 (belated)! I hope this year fills up your life with colors of joy and peace.

-From a dying blog 


Last new year day was also well spent with a trip, this year as well. Next year, let’s see. Moving on…

A bit of retrospect…

10 years ago, my family (minus me) staying in Tirupur decided to visit Kerala. I joined them, my brother dropped out and after a lot of chaos we decided to go to Kerala. My brother took a train and we (‘me’ included) were left with his car. I was strictly banned from driving, we all know how our parents trusted us back in those days, so we had someone driving us.

Kerala, as we all know, celebrates hartal/strike/bandh every other day. Things were worse then than it is now. Palghat (Palakkad) which is the passage from TN to Kerala was celebrating bandh that day. Long story short, my family that evening took Valparai route to enter Trichur (Trissur) and then continue on the NH47 to our place.

If it were today, we would have never been allowed. But then, there was not much emphasis on safety and we were allowed to pass an unpaved forest road with wildlife and more than 60 kms to cross, after 7 pm. We saw porcupine, wild boar and so on in our lonely drive, no vehicles to keep up with and no vehicles to overtake.

Will that place be any different now? This question would always pop up. 10 years down the line, I drive to find out…

A little about Valparai (my humble opinion)

‘Drive is the reason, destination is just an excuse’ sums up Valparai.

I stayed a night at Valparai in a small hotel, the place is nothing more than a small junction where three roads meet. One of them takes you to Sirukundra, the opposite of which takes you to Aliyar dam and subsequently to Pollachi in TN, the third route which intersects them in the centre takes you to Sholayar, a high range forest road and Kerala. Valparai is smaller than the main junction in my village and there is nothing fascinating about spending a night.

Sirukundra road leads to Nirar dam. The road by itself is very gorgeous with twisties, tea plantations and well-paved tarmac as a cherry on the top. The Sirukundra bungalow is a famous romantic getaway, with tents/wood houses and bungalows to choose from. But good luck finding a sign board which points you towards this bungalow. I found it though, hence such a sign board exist.

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Panorama of the tea plantations enroute Nirar Dam

And you may avoid Nirar dam, unless you want to drive those well-paved roads because the roads after forest check post (towards the dam) is damn. 4 kms (one way) of hell for

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Nirar Dam

Aliyar Dam has 43 tight hairpin bends from Valparai. Due to time constraints, I could not explore this region but I pretty much remember the long snake like roads. Lot about these roads have been shared in other blogs.

The final mention is the sholayar- forest roads-Kerala. Let me expand this further.

Exit Valparai towards sholayar and you will find forest check-posts of both TN and Kerala. This is after 18-20 kms. Once you are done with the formalities, you are treated with 60 kms of forest roads out of which 10-15 kms are good (not great), rest of it is wonderfully paved. The roads are narrow which makes it highly risky as it is two way traffic. (pic attached)

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Malakkapara to Vazhachal

In Kerala, you can either choose to visit Vazhachal waterfalls, Athirapally waterfalls and few others. For me the best part of this trip were those roads, I drove to and fro. Mission accomplished!

Travel tips through the forest road: (Red shows the start of forest roads)

My route : Cochin-Angamaly-Mukanoor-Athirapally-Vazhachal-Forest road-Malakkapara-Sholayar-Valparai
My route : Cochin-Angamaly-Mukanoor(Ezhattumughom road)-Athirapally-Vazhachal-Forest road-Malakkapara-Sholayar-Valparai
  1. The allowed passage time is between 6 am- 6 pm. The officials wont allow you passage to either side after 4 pm (Kerala check post). For people who want to enjoy these roads all by yourselves, go early. 7 am in the morning must be a good time (especially on a weekday).
  2. Carry your car docs, license and make sure you have enough supplies of you are travelling with a toddler. ‘Good’ shops or hotels just doesn’t exist there.
  3. As you can see from the pictures, the roads are narrow. Imagine confronting an SUV on a blind corner. Drive within your and the vehicles limit. Trust me, this is quite hard. Especially with a lot of bikers and some coming at you. Also there are old KSRTC buses on this route. Hence beware.
  4. Plastic is strictly banned. Please do not carry plastics and do not litter the area. Also you will not be allowed to carry inflammable materials (fuel in small bottles included) into the forest. This is to prevent forest fire.
  5. Finally, have fun…take loads of pics, make sure you take plenty of stops and enjoy the nature. Also a few view points enroute, those will make your trip worth.
Vazhachal waterfalls
Vazhachal waterfalls
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The roads be like this every mornings, perfect for a drive through the mountains!
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Athirapally waterfalls (a sneak peak)

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So the answer to my question: Will that place be any different now?, is simply yes. It has underwent a lot of changes, much to my liking. The Kerala side of changes (aka roads) look better than the TN side. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s true for once. For once Kerala proved me wrong. *slow claps*

I hope you all enjoyed the pictures like I did clicking them. Let’s see where the wind takes me next 😉

Again wishing everyone a wonderful year ahead filled with lot of road trips, adventures and fun.

Cheers!


 

Mystic Mysteries

 

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I like staying mysterious. Nobody could or would ever claim that they knew me and my thoughts in its entirety. I would never let that happen. I’ll only share with them what is necessary. That is how it is. My undisclosed facts are my guards. Some times I let one down but never two together, no chance. We all love to protect our self, I’m no different.

I hold quite a few secrets within me. All safely locked up deep within my heart. Exponentially deep, more than those woods. They will stay with me and disappear with me. But none shall learn about it. If you have filled my ears with your heart, you can count on me. I can be trusted for I will not be the laughing with others; talking about you behind your back. That’s not my trait. I’d like to be different from others.

In short, I’m mysterious yet trustworthy and you know it.

Nature


(Fiction)

View outside my window

Success; for the society, should be something like being well-settled, owning beautiful cars and showing off their riches…for my near ones, should be financial freedom, do whatever you want without being concerned about money…for me, being in peace. Success is similar to the view from my window.

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Some see it as a few fallen dry leaves and others waiting to fall. Some others see it as a place where snakes crawl around, others simply dismiss it as a jungle.


 

The story of our Onam lamps

Onam is Kerala’s harvest festival. Like Diwali (Deepavali), Onam is also celebrated by lighting small lamps in the evening, outside the house. For the first time, I saw lights outside our place. Surprised and astonished. I was celebrating Onam with my parents after a long long time as well. We have never celebrated any festival in the conventional way, but this time was different.

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Later on I came to know that my grandmother (father’s mother) was the reason for those lamps. When she heard that my father was not planning on doing anything for the day, she (who is in her late 80s) scolded my father (who is in his early 60’s) left and right. Though he left my grandmother’s place in complete denial mode, this was the end result of the little family drama.

The next day when I met my grandmother, she asked me if my father put up the lamps and I said very surprisingly he did. She smirked and said, how would he not.

Irrespective of however old you get, mother still get to pull your ears and kick you on your bum. 😥


 

The Punishment – #SpreadTheVibe

Based on a true story.


Vishal looked out of the window of the moving train. This was the first time he would be spending his Diwali vacations in Kerala, away from Mumbai. Young Vishal was accompanied by his parents and they were going for a family function which was to be held at his Aunt’s (mother’s sister) place. He was too young to be worried about the function. His Aunt’s son Rahul would be having a few days off from school as well. Vishal was two years older than him but the other cousins were either too young or old for him to mingle with. So he would as usual spend most of his vacation with Rahul.

On the eve of Diwali….

‘What? A Diwali without fire crackers? No way’ spoke out Vishal furiously.

A young boy who has never broke the ritual of bursting fire crackers was determined this time as well. Kerala was not very upfront with celebrating Diwali. The festival of lights is celebrated with tiny lamps lit across the veranda of homes and that is pretty much it. Among this chaos, Rahul mentioned about an old man selling normal fire crackers made of tied up dry leaves on a wheel trolley nearby.

I was there to meet them all as they happen to be my relatives as well. Seeing all these happenings, I contributed some money for the crackers. It was not much though. They set off to buy crackers; an hour passed by and they were back. I could see Vishal’s dull face right as they came back. I let that go.

Evening passed by and the unusual sound of crackers must surely have made the neighbors a bit uneasy. Nevertheless, evening passed by as expected; kids bursting crackers and elders sitting by the veranda, looking at the kids as they were reluctant to step out. Maybe it is a sign of less maturity to laugh and play around with the kids, or it could be them just wanting to sit back and enjoy the kids laugh and play.

At nightfall, I again noticed Vishal…so did his parents. But he managed to avoid his parents question with some excuse. After dinner, I went and sat outside in the veranda. The elders were busy watching some movie on the television. Rahul was fast asleep by then, Vishal wasn’t. He came and sat right next to me.

‘Did you not enjoy the place? Maybe you miss your place where the celebration are 10 times more?’ I queried just to get something out of him.

He nodded negative to that.

‘Did you guys create some problems on the way to buy crackers or while coming back?’ 

Again a negative nod.

I whispered again, ‘What’s on your mind? You know I wouldn’t tell nobody about it!’ . 

Actually I do have the reputation of being silent and not sharing things that matter little, with the elders. They take hasty decisions and sometimes end up frightening the kids more than helping them out.

Vishal, in a very feeble voice, started narrating… ‘On the way to the shop, Rahul told me that I can pick up a couple of fire crackers and put it in my pocket. The old man would never notice. He even had big glasses so he won’t be able to see me, if I do it. Rahul told me this was a good chance and though I was not confident, I didn’t want him to do it. So I didn’t say no. 

While in the shop and as he was packing, Rahul started poking me on my leg and I picked up two fire crackers and put it in my pocket. The old man saw that but I don’t know why he didn’t say anything then. When we handed over the money, he asked me if I had anything more or just the ones he had packed. I told him that it’s just the ones he had packed. While turning back and walking away, he called us again and asked us the same.’

Intrigued… I asked, ‘What did you reply?’

‘I replied the same as before.’

I asked him again, ‘Did he let you guys leave after that?’

Vishal put his head down.

I pat him on his back and he rested his head against my shoulder and asked me,

‘Why didn’t the old man punish me? If this was Mumbai, the shopkeeper would have slapped me and dragged me to my parents.’

I replied, ‘This is your punishment. You will have a troubled conscience for a few days and whenever you remember this day, you will always have guilt in your mind first, more than anything.’

After everything was sorted and everyone went to sleep, I was by myself in my room.

‘Most people in this world deserve second chances. Had that man decided to do anything other than this, maybe Vishal would have never realized his mistake. I am sure today he did and he won’t repeat this mistake. Sometimes it is OK to let go small mistakes made by others for the greater good of everybody. 

Also it is time to talk to Rahul and re-evaluate his thoughts and deeds the same way like that shopkeeper did for Vishal today.’

We need more of such people who know to forgive others for their small mistakes. Forgiving has its own power. He had set a benchmark for me to follow.


 

This post is a part of #SpreadTheVibe at IndiBlogger in association with YouthKiAwaaz.

 

The Fear Factor

The first thing that comes in mind when you talk about the word fear; horror movies? No, I don’t have any comments on them today, fortunately. So what am I on about today…! This is the fear within oneself. The fear which takes the form of anxiety or anticipation when we are encountered by a situation in life. The fear of changing circumstances. The fear of coming out of our comfort zone to do something.

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I am sure everyone, in their lives, have come across such situations in different forms. Talking to a beautiful girl for the first time, taking a penalty shot which is a decider, writing a very important exam, facing an interview or even going to an unknown place for the first time….

Has anyone at any given point of time experienced so much anxiety that you couldn’t perform well at all? So much anxiety that you were not able to do even half of what you would otherwise?

There are a lot of people with such problems. I sadly belong to one of them. They say, often winning and losing happens before the game than during the game. It just depends how positive you keep your mind before the big occasion.

So am I suggesting that we avoid all kinds of fear in our life to succeed?

Errrr.. not really. A man without fear is likely to ruin himself. If you don’t have that voice in you telling what is right and what is wrong, trying to deter you from something that you are not supposed to do, then it would have been very difficult for everyone. We fear that we will fail the exams ahead, we study. If there was no fear, we would most probably fail. We practice before a sports event because we fear that if we don’t then we might lose to the opponent.

It’s a very hard thing to keep fear in check, sometimes we never know, our actions are a result of the fear in us. ‘The fear factor‘ is something that we don’t pay much attention to but is a big decider in the grand scale in a person’s life.

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So essentially, fear in us should be like that Lamborghini driver who knows how to give enough throttle to let the people know that he is coming but also knows to hold back from welding the throttle on  the floor, thus not making any unwanted nuisance to the other road users.

On that ‘wisdom filled’ bombshell, Good night!


Images taken in Kerala on my phone HTC One M8 and edited in Adobe LR