Sunday, June 29, 2014

700 Kms to Serenity!

Wouldn't you say an Yes when someone ask you "Hey, Do we make a trip, now?" when you know you're super bored with your computer-job!? I would, & that too when you are being called by your besties named cousins, & when it is lead by THE CAPTAIN who has no par in planning a trip exquisite  & that too when you dunno the destination until you turn the bolero's ignition on. Yes I did say an yes!

Okay, this ain't a travelogue, the purpose is different. But may be I need to brief on the journey! It was a 4N/5D trip and we clocked 2500 Kms in Bolero, covering Chennai-Chickmangalur-Agumbe-Manglore-Kerla Backwaters-Coimbatore-Conoor-Ooty-Chennai. The list looks big, yeah? Don get Suspicious, the captain had already made a 9 day trip to Chennai-kashmir-chennai clocking 10,000+ kms, and all the way in Innova.

 It was a Tuesday eve 3 pm when we had  the thoughts for the plan ignited in our minds and it was 6 pm when we started off. So criteria is to return on Monday. Captain said as we all boarded, we are heading to Agumbe, we had no clue where it is, but nobody cared indeed. Captain resumed, Its almost in the western coast of Karnataka, posterior to Goa. Oh the guyz did smile, as they heard Goa, we never knew the script was going to be different. 

Now back to our page, We started in the eve and drove passing across Karnataka-Tamilnadu Border in the late night, good that all 4 drive, driving is never the constraint. I woke up only to see jilabi's on the huge yellow boards. We're in Karnataka, and it was Chicmangalur. We had to identify a spot to download n then upload...skimming across either side of the road, we happened to find nothing impressive. A cousin of mine made a hard brake as he found a board on the left, "The Serai" a wooden emboss which was made to flaunt its luxury. May be something we should try, we drove in to find an out of world contemporary architecture that was stunning, and what added up the spice is the 300+ acre coffee plantation that was behind in the same fence. That was such a marvelous combination. We checked in for what we went, then came back to the restaurant to order coffee and they offered us with an English breakfast. Food was nothing short of elegant and coffee was more than sensational. When we said that to the waiter, he said, wouldn't it be sir, this is the estate of Cafe Coffee Day, we are here for coffee! Impressed we were, and that led to check out the rate card for the cottages, only when we realized, we should leave if we don't want out pockets left with  a huge hole. 

The Captain @ Serai:

Bolero Vroomed again & headed towards Agumbe, oh yeah I started to feel the absense of no stretch back seats in the SUV. Half way to agumbe, we stopped near a disowned area, no vehicles, no manking, no mechanical decibels, a place void of commercialism. A Stream, An old string suspended wooden bridge and the quills singing, that was enchanting. We took a stroll along the wooden bridge, relished the beauty before we resumed the drive. Another tiring 4 hrs drive and a lunch in the middle of a highway dhaba. Around 5.30, Captain announced we are almost there in the destination, Agumbe!

The Century old wooden bridge - String suspended:

I was taken back, Agumbe, after 700 Kms all I expected was to see a tantalizing landscape, well organized tourism, and a buzzing crowd. But I was surprised to see a lone Snack bar which is the entrance of the little town, a but stand nearby which hardly had a bus, and no crowd. I stared at the Captain in annoyance if he had taken us all the way to come to this villagish town, he never replied, he does only through actions, as ever. We had a coffee in the snack bar and a sweet/karam thingie named dhokla if I'm not wrong. Bolero again headed to the inner road of the lil town where I happened to see a very old, huge house almost in the size of a basket ball court, and I happened to see Captain driving the vehicle towards that Villa. He parked the vehicle and asked us to get down with the baggage. We did, As we stepped in the Hige Villa, it did seem like an old Aranmanai (Palace Kinda home), And as we entered I was stunned to see a group of Old ladies sitting across the hall there, I thought we wrongly entered an old age home. But Captain greeted a 70 year old lady who seemed more stolid than others there and inquired her on her wellness. She bore a serenic smile. I was baffled at the sight, old interiors, hardly renovated, 2 to 3 70+ Ladies, 1 lady out there should  be 90+. It neither looked like a home stay nor like a lodge and I was sure they weren't our relatives either. Captain headed back to us and directed towards the first floor, a traditional wooden stairs took us up. We kept down the baggage and headed down. As we got down, the lady asked us to have a check on the sunset and said it would be beautiful from the nearby cliff. We came back to Bolero and headed to the sunset point where I found nothing really unique, moreover I was ambiguous on why he has brought us here all the way to this place which is not explicitly amazing. Time to break, I asked the Captain, whats happening, where are we, whats special about about this place?

We came back, parked the Bolero, and it was already 7, so we took a stroll on the wide road that headed towards nowhere. Captain spoke, finally breaking the silence. He Said, The Oldies whom you saw inside are the Royal Blood of this land, the King's descendants, the King's family. They owned thousands of acres across these hills.  And there came a day, where the govt issued a law to take over the assets of King's family across India. They took all their wealth, the family lost the big heads following up. The govt left the Royality with their heritage house and a 5 acre land nearby. The lady whom I greeted was Kasthuri Akka, and along with her there are 2 sisters of her, all of them were in 70's. The Old lady in the corner spinning a yawn and making an earning through it is their mother, who should be almost 95 years old. Kasthuri akka has a daughter, and a grand son and a grand daughter. They do not have a definitive source of income now. They are not living the King's life anymore but no one could stop them from being King like, they haven't given up on what they were doing. Anybody anytime getting in to their home will be welcomed with a warm smile, as if they were expecting their relatives, served food, provide the needed to stay over night and people leave, and they do as it was their heritage. This has been a part of their life for centuries together. Doing this when they  were the kings is different,  doing this now is something to look with awe! And the best part is, they had offered part of the 5 acres they were given back to them  to the local panchayat and they have built a school there as there were no school nearby for the children around. The four generations living there had just one principle, be good and do good to the people around! As he finished this we were in utter darkness, not even the road was visible and as I chinned up, I was dumb struck to see the sky so scintillating, I've never seen the sky star studded this way. I never knew the world has still got such wonderful souls around. Yes, I had a lump in my throat, My mind was pre-occupied as we walked back home, what makes this place in par to heaven, Is it this pollution free atmos, Is it the blessed view of stars, is it the calmness that prevails around or it is the best of mankind I just heard of....!!

Now, entering the house for the second time, It was already 9 pm, all my perceptions changed, the basic fact, perceptions are often deceptive, I developed an unknown respect for the folks there, not because they are the royal blood, but because they hold they destiny, they design their lives, for they have never given up on life and had given their best back to this world. 

As we entered, we got introduced to everyone there, Kasthuri akka asked us to get refreshed and come for dinner, I was still in thoughts as I took my towel and got in to the wash area that was behind the kitchen area. Something brought me an illuminating smile, an excitement mode. What I saw made me call Kasthuri akka, Akka whats this ? She said, This is a century old heater system, There were 2 huge, almost 3 feet brass pot vessels, they we molded over with clay and made in to a table like structure with clay where you could only see the mouth of the Brass vesel. Firewoods under, 24x7, serving you with hot water, I was wondering how intelligent we were way back, I bore a smile as I took bath and came for the dining are, all my cousins  were already there sitting in the old wooden bench, Kasthuri akka inquired about out where abouts as a part of conversation as she served steaming hot rice, kannadika dhaal, a yum spinach and a distinct jack fruit curry. Wouldn't it taste fabulous with that extra dosage of love & hospitality that she offered? It did!

Thanked her for the sumptuous meal and headed to bed, the room upstairs is meant for guests, it wasn't a bedroom, more like a dormitory, with almost 12 cots lined up. We were chatting on n number of topics, but my thought were stuck to these wonderful people, are we chasing something fake, naming it success? Aren't these guys living the best as a person and such thoughts. And finally as Captain instructed, we went to bed as we had to wake up early next day to see the sunrise. 

The best sleep I've ever had in the recent past, a complete sleep as if I've accomplished all tasks of my life, as If I'm with full bliss. The alarm rang aloud to wake us up at 5. We freshened up and headed to the Sunrise point, when you fall for something, everything about it would impress you, but this ain't that way, this is such a  beautiful sun rise, yes we reached a bit late as Google maps dumped us, but finally landed in the cliff to see the clouds beneath our foot, an age old temple in the cliff and almost a 360 degree view. Every earthy problem looked really negligible. Time to make clicks n we did.

Sunrise Spot:

 Entangled with the beautiful sunrise, we got back after 2 hrs and reached home around 9. As we entered I happened to over hear a conversation between the grand son and Kasthuri akka, which made me stun. It was evident that they find it hard to make ends meet, but how is it possible for them to treat the guests so well where they do not have enough for themselves. Everything that happened made me respect them more, made me question on the living we do, the care we have for our very own people. I walked in to take a bath again, enjoying the unique style of it, worth more than the Jacuzzi of Taj house. Akka called us for breakfast and offered the Kannadika pongal which was almost sweet. Thou we weren't used to have sweet for breakfast, we found that good to have. She invoked a conversation, spoke about our interests, food and everything, back of my mind I was questioning myself, she has got a problem, she wasn't able to provide what her grandson asked for, how is that still she can be so caring and still bear the blissful smile. Its not that she doesn't care for that kid, its about priority, serving other outnumbers anything for her. 

We spent the day exploring the locales of the town, a waterfall, a cliff ride and a mini trek and returned home in the eve, she offered us a malt that I wasn't able to recognize. She said its made out of some cereals. 

As she was speaking, 24 hrs before, I hesitated seeing the place with its outer covers, but when you get to know the people, I had no heart to leave the place. But it was time, Captain instructed to back pack. We got the baggage ready and concurred on one thing, to do what we can, which might help her to meet her grandsons need and we did the same. Thou not a million dollar would make it par to what she really deserves, its something we could do. Time to bid adieu to the beautiful family, Thanked Kasthuri akka for offering this wonderful stay. I wasn't able to speak fluently as I always do, I felt I don deserve talking too much in front of them, I jus felt we're talkers, in front of those doers.

Kasthuri Akka:

But for some reason, they have made me see a new dimension of live, de-tethering the relationship between money and happiness. I felt complete and rejuvenated. 

I owe all this to the one and only impeccable Captain, Vignesh Mathivanan for taking us to this out of world experience which we will bestow it for lifetime. :)

P.S : We still have some extravagant people who inscribe that you can be the King of your life, its all about what you give back to the loved ones around you! Live and Live with Love!