On Friday, the 19th of August, we started from our office to the railway station at 11:15 AM. We were a group of 26 people and the rest of my coworkers decided to reach the station directly from their houses – totally we were a huge group of 75 people. Things had been planned well ahead – thanks to the meticulous planning done by Ganesh, ‘our friendly neighbourhood’ manager. We were to leave by train from Chennai to Bangalore and from there two pre-booked buses would take us to Coorg. The bus dropped us at the station, we hustled in and found our Banglore Express waiting just for us. We left our bags inside and went out in different groups to have our lunches – there was more than an hour left for the train to start. Slowly the others joined us. I stuck with Partha andVignesh from the start. I was always comfortable with the ever-polite Partha and though I take my own time in getting to know people I immediately developed a liking for Vignesh, well who wouldn’t? He has a terrific sense of humour and often had most of us in splits. The train started at 1:35 and everyone did something to have a good time. Some formed groups to play cards, a big group played anthakshari, and at the end I was pulled in for a game which someone called something, I am not sure what exactly the name of that game was, but I called it ‘Downright ragging.’ It was good though, and it went very well until someone spilled coffee on my ‘almost’ white shirt.
Bangalore arrived at around 7:45 PM or rather we arrived at Bangalore at around 7:45 PM, and alighted after a series of instructions. Two buses were waiting for us and we split into two groups as it had been already decided and piled into the buses labeled Bus 1 and Bus 2 (Bus 2 was not exactly labeled and I later memorized its number as 1331). We were to have dinner somewhere and get back into the buses at ’11 PM sharp’ – that was the plan and ’11 PM sharp’ was very sharp indeed. When we were traveling I thought that we should get into groups of three (for my bus alone) with around 10 people in each group and someone should act as the leader. The idea was that the leader of that group should scout ahead and find a restaurant; get his/her group to have supper; and get back to the buses on time. But the idea stood as an idea and never took a physical form and we wasted some time in finding a place to eat. Nevertheless, even if my idea was carried out there would have been a time delay as some people had different ideas of their own. Finally when the ‘lost children’ arrived to catch the bus, the time, as I was later told, was 12 AM. But it had been decided that the others who where on time needn’t wait and so the punctual people were sent ahead in a bus, but only to be stopped later so that the other bus could catch up. After some time of traveling I slowly drifted to sleep. The bus reached our Hotel Hill View at Coorg at around 6 AM and we all trooped in sleepily to get our room keys.
Things went as planned except for the minor glitch the previous night. I shared my room with Partha, Vignesh and Dinesh. The real fun began when we left the hotel in our buses for sight seeing. We first visited Abbi falls. The bus reached a point and from there we were told to walk and we all walked down a beautiful curving road atop some hill. The climate was fantastic except for a slight drizzle. Now at this point my inner child woke up and I started to walk ahead of the others so that I can get a bit more time to stay in a place and take more photos. I always loved hill stations and Coorg was no exception. Click, click, click! I took a lot of photos – 300 photos in two days, and the button in my camera still works fine. I didn’t use a proper camera, it was my cell phone that I used. Thanks to my Samsung Omnia Pro B7610 Windows 6.1 mobile with a 5 MP camera and flash, some of the pictures didn’t come out as I had expected (I don’t understand why some people complain that I am sometimes unnecessarily specific). But still 90% of the photos did come out good and so I was happy.
After Abbi we had lunch and later drove up to ‘Thalacauvery’ – the place where the river Cauvery starts. It was an enchanting spot. Actually, we weren’t able to exactly see where we were or our surroundings, for a mist had enveloped the whole place. I love that sort of misty places. It was raining a bit more heavily but that didn’t dampen our spirits and we marched on. The spot had a temple and so we had to remove our foot wear and walk in the wet, cold floor and it was still raining. I initially detested the idea as I also had a bit of cold at that time. But after removing my trainers I sort of liked it very much. I raced ahead and checked out the small temple which was perched on a slope and so we had to climb a small fleet of steps in three or four places to check out the expanse of the temple completely. It was not an enclosed area and so I carried my umbrella at all times. At one spot I noticed that a small slope had a small entrance on one side and from there started a a fleet of stairs that disappeared somewhere as the mist completely covered it. Later I was told there were totally around 350 steps. I went up to that entrance and was able to make out a very long, steep fleet of stairs that curved around in places. There weren’t much people around and suddenly a vision of my bus leaving without me when I was huffing and puffing up the stairs appeared in my mind and so I decided to go up only with some company. I looked around and found a very good ally in Sree (Sreelakshmi Narayanan), Aravind (Aravindan Narasimhan), Srini (Srinivasan) and Kaleeswaran. Aravind too had wanted to go upstairs but had wanted company, but Sree was a man on a mission. He was determined to see what was upstairs and there was no stopping him. His determined face sort of reminded me of Rahul Dravid. We all together slowly began ascending the stairs. I was initially pumped up as I am always when I go on tours or trips of fun. But slowly my legs began to tire and feel heavy to carry them forward. We all often stopped to catch our breath and carried ourselves all the way to the top. On our way I said amidst some heavy breathing, “This feels like a forest adventure! You know, picnics are easy, but forest adventures have a bit of difficulty in them. Just like this!” The pinnacle was a small place and we were not able to see anything that was around us. Everything was completely covered under a thick blanket of mist and I loved every second of staying there. But some people might say there’s nothing on top. But to me and to the others the place was out of a fantasy tale. We spent a few beautiful minutes taking pictures of each other and then we slowly began our descent.
I got lost in the mist!
Doesn’t this photo look great?!!!
I later found that that I was the last person to board my bus and as I climbed in hastily I found Ganesh giving a speech on being on time and I thought that there would be some ticking-off in store for me. But thankfully he didn’t say anything.
The next stop was ‘Triveni Sangam’ were three rivers merged together.
Check out this video of our journey from Thalacauvery to Triveni Sangam.
If you can turn the speakers on, you can hear Ganesh and Siva in the background.
It was a beautiful spot too and we spent around 30 minutes there taking photographs and ambling along and later we decided to go back to out hotel rooms. It took about 2 hours of travel to reach our hotel and the immediate plan was that we should go out and have our supper somewhere and come back for some fun and games at 9 PM sharp. And sharp it was.
I have to say that it was not my mistake that we came back late. I usually make sure that I am bang on time always and even on that occasion I wanted to be back at 9 PM as Ganesh had instructed. But even before leaving the hotel I could sniff the word ‘late’. I debated, ‘If I am to be back on time I should go alone, but going along with my room mates is the right thing and also I would only be a few minutes late. But What I didn’t expect was that my room mate Dinesh brought along with him a group of girls. I knew that it meant an elongated session of supper with lots of talking amidst some chewing. ‘Well, so be it,’ I said to myself and carried on. By the time we finished supper and reached the hotel it was 9:40 PM. Ganesh was standing near the front desk and along with him stood Barath, Pranesh and a few others – all gazing at me. I felt as though I had just returned after committing a murder.
“What time is it?” asked Ganesh in a reproachful tone.
I looked at the clock even though I had a watch strapped around my wrist.
“It’s 9:40,” he said.
“Okaaaaaay,” I started as I sometimes do when I am at a loss of words.
“What’s okay? You’re the Hotel volunteer and you’re late.”
‘I am a volunteer?’ I thought.
‘oh, yes, I am,’ I remembered.
I slowly trooped in with the others. I entered the hall where we were supposed have some games and found that there were still some people left to come. I was happy. I then turned back and went to Ganesh and apologized for being late. Slowly the late comers joined us and I watched with much amusement as Ganesh dished out the same treatment.
The games followed. I badly wanted to go to bed, but stayed on as I didn’t want to miss out any fun and also didn’t want to be a spoilsport by not participating (not that my absence was going to spoil anything, but I felt that way). Before hitting the sack, Partha switched the TV on to Star Cricket to see how India was faring in the fourth Test match. After scratching around for 29 balls Suresh Raina got out for a duck. I imagined what the post match ceremony was going to be like.
The next day I woke up at 7:30 AM and went about getting ready. The instructions that I received was to make sure that everyone was ready at the lobby by 9:30 AM. I did what I could do, but you know, I cannot fight against hangover (of the alcoholics, not me!). But then, that gave me plenty of time to have breakfast, buy some honey bottles and tea packs and to trespass a private property.
I must admit, trespassing is really an exciting thing to do! It all happened when I was clicking away a few photos near a beautiful cottage when a gang of our girls opened the gate of that cottage and entered the front garden. I followed suit. One part of me wanted to be polite and say, ” Excuse me, can we please take some photos of your garden?” to the owner and another part wanted to re-enact the naughty boy days of my childhood times. It’s heavenly to break rules. Click, click, click! Snap, snap, snap! went our cameras. As I turned towards the cottage I watched through a series of windows an old lady steaming towards the front door. Yikes!
She opened the door and I expected a volley of harsh words, but what came out was a string of polite questions or rather questions in a polite tone. Aha, politeness! Now that falls under my line of control. A heaven sent inspiration hit upon me! I suddenly remembered Enid Blyton’s Fatty!
For those of you who have never heard about Fatty or Enid Blyton please read the following, others please skip the box below.
Enid Blyton is a famous British children’s writer who wrote her majority of books during the 1940s and 1950s. Every year around 11 million copies of her books sell world wide and JK Rowling is still trailing behind her in book sales. Blyton’s books have been translated into 90 languages so far. Fatty is one of Blyton’s major character’s who is known for his intelligence and politeness. ————————————————————————————————————————–
“Excuse me, Ma’am,” I said in the most politest tone that I could use. “I am really sorry that we’re here without any permission,”
“You should have informed me before taking any photos,” she said.
“Yes, I understand that and I know that we’re trespassing in you’re property here, ma’am ,” I continued thinking about what Fatty would say next. “I am extremely sorry for what we have done.”
“Okay, okay…,” she warmed down a bit. “Which college are you all coming from?”
“We’re not from any college. We work for Cognizant” I said and slowly went towards the front door where she was standing. I tried to smile my politest smile.
“I am Nepolean.”
“I am Mrs.Ganesh,” she said.
“You’ve got a beautiful house here, built in a British style,” I said. I was not trying to flatter her, but the house was really beautiful and I loved it. I never flatter anyone. My compliments always come from my heart or in exceptional cases I compliment for the sake of politeness. I strictly never use flattery.
“Yes, that was the idea,” she said. “Come in.”
I went inside and she asked me to sit.
“I hope to build a house like this one day,”
“You sure will,” she smiled. “Where do you come from?”
“We’re from Chennai.”
“I was in Chennai for 30 years,” she said.
“So you know Tamil?” I asked
But the conversation continued in English.
“You’re a Kannada person?”
“I am a Coorg.”
I took sometime to understand that statement.
“Thanks for allowing us here…” I said and started to leave. “Can I take a picture of you?”
“oh, no, thank you,” said the sweet grandma. “Make sure that you close the front gate when you leave.”
I bade goodbye and bolted the gate before I left.
From there we went to Nisagardhama, an island amidst river Cauvery. It wasn’t as I had initially imagined. The place was good, but still didn’t fulfill my expectations. When it comes to hill stations I expect to be surrounded by beautiful trees and greenery atop hills, breath taking views, and mist, lots and lots of mist. I love the ‘mistic’ charm that comes with hill stations.
The next stop was a Tibetan monastery and from there we had to get back to Bangalore. I knew from the beginning that it was not going to be a great place, but I wanted to visit it as it was something different. Maybe the monastery was perched atop a steep, dangerous, beautiful hill.
No, it wasn’t.
The place resided almost out of the hilly areas. The one another thing that I looked forward to was a common room or hall where people could meditate with the monks.
No. There was no such place.
It was all in my imagination (and I do have a very good imagination). Nevertheless, it was a place to visit and I bought a beautiful Buddha statue as a souvenir there.
We continued our journey throughout afternoon and evening (during which Siva gave us a beautiful speech on the art of Leadership and Management) and reached the Bangalore railway station at around 10 PM (if I am not wrong). The train was at 10:35 PM.
And so with happy memories and with sleepy heads we all reached Chennai as one large family.
I would like to Thank Ganesh, Anand, Siva, Aravind and all our volunteers who contributed immensely to the success of this tour.
Thank you, Anand and Siva, for everything 🙂
And once again a special Thanks to Ganesh for making this trip such a memorable one.
You don’t know Jack!
Please find below the links to photos of places in the order that we visited.