Saturday, October 5, 2013

A day in God's own country

Most of my friends when they got married, I observed there was a sudden change in their attitude. They wouldn't attend most of my calls or wont have time to meet us or join for road trips or even spend time with us over a drinking session. I always wondered what marriage did to these guys until I got married. I am not saying marriage is bad. Its just that guy's like me who never have any schedule to keep up with or any commitments find it little bit difficult in the first few months to adjust. Hence even I had a "sudden change in attitude" like every other guy.


Unlike earlier now I just couldn’t pack my bags and leave for a trip. I had to make sure that my better half also had offs at the same time and she was also willing to come for the trip. In this juggle I ended up missing some road trips with my friends. All I do now is to click ”LIKE” on their road trips photos in face book.

Things have now got so worse that my friend Deepak has started writing blogs and expect me to edit it and publish it on my website. So the below story is in Deepak’s words about his road trip to God’s own country – Kerala.
 
Read on!!!!!

I have been to road trips many times, but this is the first time I decided to pen down my experience since our official blogger couldn’t make it to the trip. This trip shall always be remembered for the uncertainties and surprises it had to offer.

Initially our road trip was planned to Hampi, which is around 340 kms from Bangalore. Due to various reasons, many members of our group could not make it to the trip at the last moment. From 8 members, we were now only 3 of us which included Ravi, Shivu and me. We dint want to go to Hampi since we have been there before and I dint want to cancel this trip at any cost.



After lots of discussion about where to go, Ravi came up with this place called Alleppey (Kerala). This is also called as Alappuzha. Alleppey is about 600 kms from Bangalore and July being a rainy season; it was raining like hell in Kerala from past 10 days.

Shivu was little hesitant at the beginning to come for the trip citing that the weather would destroy the trip and I was worried about Ravi being the only driver. Even though Shivu and I could drive, we were damm sure Ravi would not allow us to drive. Add to this we being only 3 of us, budget would also go up automatically. We had to rope in someone who could mingle with us and share the budget.



Ravi suggested one of his colleagues Vinod, I agreed straight away.

Our trip was planned for the weekend. Going and coming back to Alleppey in 2 days would be a tedious job, so we mutually  agreed to take a  extra day leave.  Finally after lots of confusions, we were set to go to Alleppey for 3 days. 

We all gathered at Ravi’s house on a Saturday morning. After our customary vehicle pooja we started at 7.00 am from Bangalore. It was bright and sunny day Bangalore traffic was pretty nominal. We had to pass silk board and take Salem Kanyakumari Highway (NH 7).
The roads were well maintained and Ravi was speeding at 100 to 120 kmph. Shivu insisted Ravi to take a break for breakfast. We went to hotel called Anandabhavan after Hosur.
 Ravi wanted Rava dosa, waiter gave some explanation about it in Tamil which none of us could understand. We only understood it’s not available and changed the menu. 
We all placed our orders, which were served pretty quickly. Only Shivu’s order was due to come. Shivu was waiting for it while the waiter came up with the final bill. Shivu was very angry; waiter apologized for the confusion and told would get the order quickly. But Shivu felt that the waiter did this on purpose and decided to teach him a lesson by cancelling the order and staying hungry. Ravi and I just smiled at each other about this incident. We paid the bill and continued our journey. 

Being rainy season, there was greenery everywhere. There were some great views on either side of the road. 
After some time I started pulling Shivu’s leg about the breakfast incident. Now hunger had made him humble, so humble that he accepted it was foolish on his part to reject his order. Now he started begging Ravi to stop at some hotel as he was very hungry. We all laughed about the incident and stopped near a hotel again. Shivu got his fill this time. Seeing Shivu eat, Vinod also felt hungry and ordered some more Dosa’s. After some resistance I also joined them. For the first time in my life, I was enjoying Dosa’s so much.

Looking at us, Ravi ordered we finish this dosa fest fast. We had wasted lot of time and had lot of distance to cover. None of us dared to waste any more time. We paid the bill and continued our journey. Ravi made it very clear he won’t be stopping anywhere until we reach Coimbatore.

(We didn’t have to go to Coimbatore city to reach Alleppey. We have to take a deviation towards Palakkad in the highway itself)
 Ravi had to go to Coimbatore to meet a friend.  We reached Coimbatore in about 7 hrs from Bangalore.  Compared to Bangalore climate, Coimbatore was pretty hot. Ravi met up with his friend and together went to a nice restaurant for lunch. Ravi’s friend ordered almost everything in the menu (Chicken, mutton, fish & eggs).  

After a grand fest, Ravi and his friend were fighting to pay the bill.  It was not good on our part to make Ravi’s friend pay our bill.

Shivu and I paid the bill and thanked Ravi’s friend for the nice restaurant and started our journey backwards from Coimbatore to Palakkad. Once we reached Palakkad, there was a drastic change in the climate compared to Coimbatore. There was cool breeze and it also started to drizzle. Weather Conditions were just perfect for a road trip.  We were very happy about the climate and thought maybe this is why kerala is called Gods own Country.
I requested Ravi to stop here and there to take some photographs. We had heard about road not being great from Thrissur. Due to heavy rains there was water stagnant everywhere, but without traffic and good scenery to look at we had nothing to complain. I thought to myself I don’t mind the roads being this way as long as we have such views to look at. Little did I know our nightmare was yet to come!

After reaching Thrissur, traffic increased due to heavy rains and also road repair work going on here and there. At one junction because of some reckless driving from Kerala bus drivers and bad road condition, we were stuck on road for more than 2 hours.
Shivu and Vinod lost their cool and started to control the traffic. Somehow we managed to get out of that jam after 2 hours of frustration. In the mean time Ravi called his friend in Alleppey and informed him that we will reach late. Shivu and I felt like having a drink, but didn’t dare tell it to Ravi, since he had to drive. After reaching Kochi, we were little confused about the route to Alleppey. We asked for directions and we had to travel 60 more kms. Ravi told us its better we parcel our dinner as we may reach Alleppey at 10 pm. I was just waiting for this. Ravi and Vinod were in the car, while Shivu and I went to get the food. We ordered our food and in the mean time took 2 beers. We both decided we won’t tell it to Ravi. We were about to take the first sip when Vinod and Ravi entered the Pub. Ravi was expecting this from us but he was kind enough to sacrifice his drink. We 3 finished our drink in no time, took our parcels and continued our journey. We finally reached Alleppey at 11pm.
Ravi’s friend took us to our rooms. Looking at our faces, he told us take rest and will be joining us again in the morning to take us to the Boat house. More than tired, we all were desperate for a drink. The enthusiasm for drinking is something that has always increased over the years. We ordered for 4 glasses and started our drink. I had bought a Bacardi from Bangalore; we drank till we finished the bottle and slept peacefully.

 Next morning someone was knocking at our door. I checked the time it was 7am. I felt too lazy to get up and open the door, so pretended to be asleep. I was waiting for Shivu to get up and open the door. Shivu too dint look like he was going to get up, maybe he was expecting me to get up and open the door. Ravi started shouting; he was the one who was knocking on the door. Finally Shivu managed to move his ass and opened the door. Ravi was now fuming saying that he has been knocking on the door from 10 minutes. Listening to Ravi scream at Shivu, I got up and sat on my bed before he could say anything to me. Looking at me Shivu was surprised that I was awake and yet dint bother to open the door. I gave him a smile and told that we are birds with same feather, hence we flock together.
We all got ready, finished our breakfast and were waiting for Ravi’s friend to take us to the Boat house. Ravi’s friend didn’t make us wait, he told us to take all our belongings as we will be halting in the Boat house that night. I asked Ravi’s friend to explain in detail about the Boat house. He told us we will be boarding Boat house at 11am today and staying there till next morning 9.30, they will provide us lunch, dinner and breakfast. In case we need anything else, we can buy it and they will cook it free of cost.

I asked him about the liquor arrangements, Ravi’s friend told us we will have to buy it before going to boat house and he will take us to the liquor shop. I now felt satisfied. We headed straight to the Liquor shop from our rooms. Ravi remained in his car as there was no parking place.  Shivu, Vinod and I were discussing what to buy. We went towards the shop. Looking at the shop I realized it’s a Government shop and we won’t get good brands. There was a Queue to buy liquor at morning 10. Shivu and Vinod were quite surprised. I told them Karnataka is the only place where you get 2 to 3 Liquor shops every road and here this might be the only Liquor shop in entire Alleppey.

We decided to take beer and stood in the queue. Shivu went to the counter and asked for 20 bottles. The shop keeper looked at Shivu and gave a weird look and said only 5 bottles per person. This time I was surprised, I dint know there were restrictions to buy beer. Shivu took his quota of five, behind him I took my quota of five and told Vinod to buy his quota. In the mean time we will keep the bottles in the car and come back. Ravi and Shivu were arranging the bottles in the car. I came back to the shop to help Vinod. Vinod was arguing with the shop keeper, I asked him what is wrong. Vinod told me the shopkeeper is saying that we have taken too many beer bottles and won’t be giving us anymore. I thought what the hell is wrong with these people as we are not taking anything for free of cost. I told Vinod to buy something else, and he somehow managed to take half bottle of Vodka.

The people standing behind Vinod in queue were throwing tantrums at us. Vinod gave them back a mouthful. We kept all the bottles in our bags carefully and reached the Boat house. We parked our vehicle in the parking area, took our luggage and went to the Boat house. They welcomed us with a welcome drink and told us to keep our luggage in the room.  

I started keeping our entire luggage in one room when the boat boy told me I can use the other room also. Initially I thought we 4 will be accommodated in 1 room and there will be other guests in other rooms. But that was not the case; it was a 2 bedroom boat house and we were the only 4 in the entire boat. I felt really happy and super excited. We thanked Ravi’s friend for the arrangements and our boat started to leave the coast. We all kept moving from one tip to other tip of the boat like mad dogs. I kept taking photos of almost everything. We went for the boat ride in backwaters of Kerala. There were boathouses everywhere to be seen. It was evident this was one of their main business here. Vinod asked the boat driver how many boats sail in this backwater. The boat driver gave an astonishing figure of 800 boats. We were taken back by the number he mentioned. Ravi asked the area of these backwaters, Boat driver mentioned it was around 250sqm.  
Ravi called us all saying he has an announcement to make, I was wondering what he would say. Ravi started we need not pay anything for boat house or the rooms we stayed previous night. I could not believe my ears; I just kept blinking at Ravi. Looking at me Ravi said “yes, you heard it right, we need not pay anything. Everything is arranged by my friend. We have to give this boat people good tips”. Shivu and I started dancing the next moment, we were so happy.
Our boat was heading to some shore and our driver informed us, we can buy fish if we wanted to and they will cook it for us. We thought we have nothing else to spend on and ended up buying 3kg fish for 3 of us. Vinod was vegetarian.

We had nothing else to do apart from eating and drinking. There were 2 things that were bothering me. First my Camera was low on battery and I had left the charger in the car. I now had to be very selective with my photographs. Second I knew we dint have enough stock of alcohol to last till next day. Especially when you have Shivu and Vinod for company and given the location and time we had. It was almost a matter of life and death for us!
I asked the boat driver if we could buy some alcohol from anywhere. The driver said that is not available here. But if you guys want you can try the local drink Toddy (made from coconut). I thought something is better than nothing and told the driver to take us there. We took about 3 litres of Toddy and I borrowed Shivu’s Iphone to take Photographs. 
We were also lucky to witness Kerala’s people practicing for their traditional game called Snake (boat race). This happens every year during Onam. 115 members participate in each boat. It was a sheer joy to see their enthusiasm and spirit.  
We had a very good time doing nothing. Our boat cook would serve dishes whenever we wanted them to. I for the first time was drinking Toddy. Ravi & Vinod had tasted before and Shivu dint like it. Our boat was halted at some place at 5.30 in the evening for night stay. They don’t sail the boat after this time because of fishing nets put up by fishermen.
We got down from our boat and sat on the coast. Our legs immersed in water, making fun of each other, sipping beer and watching the sunset. This was the most relaxed evening of our entire trip and I enjoyed every moment of it. 

After it got a bit dark, we returned to our boat. Food was served hot and spicy, our drinking session continued till late night.

Next morning when I got up and opened my eyes, our boat was sailing which I could see from my room window. I could hear Shivu, Vinod and Ravi talking outside my room. I freshened up and joined them for breakfast. Our Alleppey boat ride was almost over. We were taken to the main coast after our breakfast.  We gave the boat guys good tips and went straight to our rooms. After freshening up, we left Alleppey at 11 am. 
We returned to Bangalore at around 1 am. We thanked Ravi for the sponsorship and also for taking all the pain in driving to and fro from Bangalore to Alleppey. This was the most relaxed road trip I had in a long time. We had no places to cover or any schedules to catch up. Anyone planning a perfect 3 day Road trip from Bangalore, just to get away from their hectic life, then Alleppey is definitely one of those places.

15 comments:

  1. Wow so Lovely..Kerala is Indeed very Lovely and Natural.. :)
    And You missed the Fun I guess..

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice blog Deepu... simple and sweet blog :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh man..!! Deepu..!! Indeed u've written it nicely.. not bad at all for a first timer.. ;)
    Cheers buddy..!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Superb account and pictures! I always wanted to go to Alleppey but it is kind of jinxed for me. I hope can make it happen someday. And btw Manu, I think I travel much the same after marriage and a baby just as before. So it's no excuse :P

    ReplyDelete
  5. Beautiful pics and great narration. Kerala is indeed God's own country.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Superb Deepu..!! Nice start..I enjoyed a lot reading your blog...

    ReplyDelete
  7. and next time when u head to allepy there are other ways not to take pallkad route through cochin as roads are always busy and traffic...u can take a deviation from dindugal towards cumbum theni - kumili-changanseery and allepy ...the sweetest and short route...

    or madurai - shencottai-kottarakkara - changanessery - allepy...

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