Friday, June 15, 2012


The Kerala-Tamilnadu Border
It took a lot of courage and alcohol to get myself to do this. I went alone on a trip to kerala last april and came back in one piece. I managed to do a lot of writing on the trip. Below is just a sample of what else I managed to do in my 5 days down south.
4th april 10:02pm.. I was greeted by showers at the Kochi airport. What better way to be welcomed? The Kochi airport is very old world style. The first sight after I emerged from the plane was an Air Arabia flight. For a state obsessed with the middle east,it was the perfect intro. I had dinner at the airport restaurant which also seemed to be stuck in that same time warp which afflicted the rest of the airport. My biggest challenge here is going to be the language but unlike other southern states the knowledge of English in Kerala is very impressive. I wish I could speak their language as the best way to know the natives better is always in their language. I am now cooped up in a seedy guest house near the Ernakulam bus stand waiting to take the 5am bus to Munnar. No volvos and sleepers, I will be taking the normal state transport bus and it promises to be a great ride. Watching Sachin bat is the best way to end the day in any part of this world. The high elbow six creamed over the covers capped up a very good day 1 for me.  Quotable quotes- when i asked the hotel guy about the bus to Munnar "Munnar you go with ladies, lonely no fun" When bargaining for the hotel rate, the hotel owner asked me where I was from and then came the obvious retort " You get a room in Bombay at this rate? What you are bargaining saaaaar!" Moment of the day : was standing outside the Kochi airport waiting for my bus and I looked around: there was a Mohanlal image in every direction.. Be it for a movie, a jeweller or a political party. The latest movie Mohanlal and Mamooty are coming in is called The King and The Commissioner. Welcome to Mollywood :)
The house I stayed in at Munnar
5th April 6:10pm.. Found just the kind of place I wanted to stay in munnar.. The important thing is it's so quiet I can actually hear myself breathing.. I was watching Russell Crowe playing James Braddock the millionth time today and still it managed to move me to tears.  You know what, for all my lofty plans of writing my ass off on this trip, I'm finding it very difficult to do the sort of writing that can do justice to this place. Like what I usually write is alright for a city life and a social media upload, but I find myself lacking in trying to capture the simple joy I'm experiencing in this silence, this quiet river, this sound of the insects. City life will always be that loud, functional tube light to the romantic yellow light of the hills. I find the yellow lamps very soothing, it purges me of all my misgivings about life. It is very empowering, this taking a trip alone thing. In so many ways it's a metaphor for life. I just hope I become more and more courageous over the next few days.. I take that hiking trip I turned down when offered by Germans staying next door. I try malabar cuisine, and local fruits and rent a bike and learn to ride it as i go. As always there are two guys within me who are fighting.. The accountant and the Mican. One wants to make the most of the 15 grand flight ticket and visit as many places to maximise Roi. The other wants to take it easy, live in the moment, get lost in the bonus round of intoxications that are on offer here.. I guess I'll reach a truce which will please the both in some way. I hope that is the real me. The peacemaker, the mediator between the two. I hope I don't realise at some stage in the future that I'm only one of them, or worse, I'm neither.  It is so wonderful to live in a place where your window doesn't open into a traffic jam. Even better, it opens into a river and a wooded forest beyond it. I will always wonder if a life in Bombay is worth all the sacrifices we make for it.  Ive tried taking pictures to just put up on the blog but I don't think they come even close to what the Dslr toting mbas are photoshopping all over the Internet. while we all try to fictionalise our experiences to make them sound cooler, I just hope we remember what mark twain once said. He said that fact will always be stranger (and by extension, more riveting) than fiction because it does not have the burden of sounding probable. Reminds me of this article by raja sen about sachins career. Every trip I have ever taken in my life has had a theme song. Well, most things I have done in my life have had theme songs. My theme song for this trip is this little gem sung by sd burman in guide. Wahan kaun hai tera, musafir, jayega kahan. it is a timeless song and just goes with a trip of this sort. Standing outside the kochi airport yesterday, just feeling the damp air and how full of possibilities i felt, this song on my phone just made me very very - how do I put it? - well, hrithik-after- the-deep-sea-dive-in-znmd-y. To inherit the legacy of sd and then becoming the legend that is rd, is a huge achievement. One of those times when a Rahul outdid a sachin.  Have you had one of those bus ride where the bus is almost full and you keep hoping the seat next to you is the one that remains empty? Today, on my way to munnar from kochi I managed to be lucky till we reached the base of munnar. And then, in came this burly malayali moustache Pete all in White. He sat next to me and was snoring within 5 mins. Don't get me wrong, I'm a tolerant guy and I can put up with snoring any time of day. But he wasn't done. As we started the ascent, the hair pin curves made him sway wildly and his full weight fell on my poor shoulders. This went on for at least an hour if not more. I kept telling myself it wasn't so bad. But then I started worrying for my dear shoulders and let it rip. He was gone to a different seat in 5 mins. I wonder if this guy was a more angry sort of a person. I wouldn't be typing with both my hands right now then. So you know I am a filmy guy and take films a little too seriously. While watching Cinderella Man today, I kept thinking of the final fight between Braddock and Max as a metaphor for the final fight HT and TOI are fast heading towards in Mumbai, and by extension, the whole country. And what can I say, the underdog won!
One  of the many paths I took - trusting God and Mallu  hospitality
7th April 3:57pm.. Have had the most awesome 2 days of this year. And considering printworks happened this year,that's saying a lot. Yesterday was spent in the midst of acres and. Acres of tea plantations where me and my auto driver indulged is much tomfoolery.. Right from a jo jeeta Wohi sikandar photo shoot to me driving the auto on the winding ghats. I still found time for precious islands of silence and contemplation. What's more, a murder mystery set in the western ghats on the Kerala-tamilnadu border is fast taking shape in my mind. The only thing awesomer than having a great travel plan is to have a great book to go with it. The meaning of sport by Simon barnes is just that kind of book. But the book itself derserves a seperate post.  So today has been a rather eventful day. After traveling by the creaky ksrtc bus for 7 hours,I have left the mountains behind for the gentle sway of the allepey backwaters. Everybody here seems amused by the idea of this chubby little Indian travelling alone and doing honeymooney places like Munnar and Allepey. But as a friend of mine rightly pointed out, this houseboat thing is indeed an experience to be had alone.  The first scene in the fourth estate has Richard Armstrong, media tycoon who had bit off more than he could chew, standing naked at the head of his yacht, his entire life flashing through and then committing suicide after that. If ever I commit suicide,that's how it will be. From something I own,to something only god owns. The greatest thing I have got on this trip is the abundance of silence. All I could hear in Munnar was the mountain breeze and all I can hear here is the benign river.. Playfully swaying my boat and letting my mind lull into a conscious slumber. Nor is the opulence of it all lost on me. To lounge on the upper deck of a houseboat with a chef and a captain doing your bidding all day is a very enjoyable experience. To be dressed in minimal rags, with a beer in hand and pink floyd on the playlist,even more so. I just love the envious looks I sometimes get from husbands on honeymoons. Little do they know that a part of me is envious of them too.
400sqft of luxury and sumptuous sights beyond it - as if nature dressed up specially for me


Atrisa said...

I was vicariously living Kerala here till you mentioned cricket. Tsk tsk.

Hehe, I kid. Kerala alone has been on my agenda too :)

Megha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megha said...

Kunj - I chanced upon your blog and this post because of some facebook link. I'm glad I did. I've often only focused on the pleasures of having someone to share beautiful experiences with. Its helpful to see someone find joy and meaning in travelling alone. Thanks.


Kunj Sanghvi said...

@archie - Considering the turn of events, I guess Kerala alone aint happening for you for a long time now :p
@megha - I have been a group traveller all my life so I know what you are talking about.. Give loneliness a try sometime.. Thanks for liking what I wrote :)