Finding an orphan 100 Rupee note on a street….
Finding empty roads on a Monday morning (thanks to holiday in other offices)….
Cooking, by chance, an amazing Daal…
Small surprises make life so WORTH living !
Agumbe-Sringeri was such an experience.
Sept 3, Friday 11:24 am : Bohra made us an offer that I couldn’t refuse. So couldn’t Joshi. Tickets were booked.
I had heard of it as the King Cobra capital of India. I read a little later …..it receives second-highest rainfall in India and Monsoon was in its full glory at that point of time. On the Rajhamsa to Agumbe, we were the only tourists. The practical me cursed myself. But the decision was made.
Morning mist and a blanket of greenery engulfed us in Agumbe. We had plans of staying in a guest house. Then one boy passed by and talked about one old paying guest house down the road. Why we went down that road ?……no particular reason comes to my mind right now. A blue plastic sheet covered the 2 storey house. There was a small gate. Bohra shouted “Hello” like in those horror movies. A small girl came out and went in again to call her Grandma.
There are some people who you meet….
Who even when you are meeting for the first time, exude such warmth that you feel like
Dinner time with Kasturiakka and Shantiakka
knowing them from years….
Who aren’t prejudiced about you or in a hurry to judge you….
Who are plain happy to see you and accept you as you are…
Kasturiakka, the girl’s grandma and Shantiakka her elder sister – were two such persons. They…we….talked…shared a lot of stories.
It was an old structure. Small gate outside, a big verandah inside, again a small door for entry into the dining hall, rooms above the dining hall. Few rooms, lying unattended for years, gave a creepy feeling. The bathroom had two big copper containers, fitted inside a cemented shelf . A small fire underneath the containers, heated the water. There was a well and an animal shelter alongside the bathroom.
We were just feeling that there is something different and unique about this house and then Kasturiakka told us this is the Malgudi Days House.
We had nice home-made food but our favourite was Kasay, a home-made drink made out of jaggery, milk and local herbs. We gulped and gulped and gulped it.
I was starting to have that feeling…the feeling of finding an unexpected treasure…the feeling that this is going to be some trip….the omens were there(yes, I finished The Alchemist yesterday).
Barkana waterfalls first – we decided.
The first hurdle
Auto dropped us on the road at the edge of forest . 3 kms straight walk to Barkana – the driver told us. Forest was showing it’s colors from the start. A 3-4 ft deep nallah and lush greenery welcomed us.
Spirits were buoyant…
Posing in the middle of nowhere
Jokes were being cracked…
Chips and Chocolates were being devoured…
War cries of Barkana Ho traveled through the forest….
And then it grew dark. The intriguing, lush green forest had morphed into a labyrinth. Almost 2 hours had passed away. In the middle of a rain forest, with heavens pouring like no tomorrow and wriggling leeches on our feet – WE WERE LOST!
Spirits were drooping. One trail, fortunately, led us out of the forest on to the same road.
The auto driver came again. We told him our sad story and he told us the route again.
In the middle of the road,
we had the brainstorming once again – the GO NO-GO DECISION.
Bohra wanted to go in. He never wanted to come out without seeing it, in the first place. So did Tripathiji.
Joshi and Indrajeet didn’t want to go in. Joshi had hurt/sprained his leg slightly. Indrajeet hated and cursed leeches like they were whores.
Laziness in taking a stand puts you in a hot seat sometimes. The decider vote was mine. Part me, wanted to sympathize with Joshi and Indrajeet. Another part didn’t want to leave any unfinished business.
Pain is temporay, quitting is permanent
– Lance Armstrong
LET’S GO IN – I said. This time we were more business like. Making mental and physical notes of trails and landmarks, we discovered routes, hidden by fallen trees, some of which we had earlier assumed as blocked.
The rain was incessant..
The forest was becoming denser…
The place was the motherland of leeches…
Sweat, Blood and Rain – it was a heady cocktail.
If our hearts hadn’t given up, so hadn’t the demons in our minds. Doubts started clouding our spirits again. But the beauty of being in a group is that…..
If one feels it’s a wild goose chase, another will see the light at the end of tunnel….
If one feels frustrated by the unending trail, another could hear the sound of water falling on rocks….
Bohra - the leader
Bohraji was leading and it’s a tough job. Make no mistakes, leaders are not always popular – but a leader doesn’t have to please everyone. Writing now, I remember the same role played by Pundirda in Sawandurga trek, years back.
Very soon the trail was also lost. Bushes were overgrown. Sometimes we had to cut them , sometimes crouch under them. King Cobra was nowhere in sight though.
Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested
– The Alchemist
Finally, we reached the view point from where we could see Barkana.
The view was majestic.
The waterfall looked like milk flowing on the rocks.
The mist above the mountains made the whole setting surreal – almost something like the parts of New Zealand that we got to see in movies like Braveheart, The Last Samurai and LOTR.
But to be honest, I felt cheated…a trifle disappointed. It was just a view-point. I wanted to bath under the waterfall. But then ,
The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination
-Don Williams Jr.
Immediately after conquering Barkana, we went to Jogi Gundi Falls. We reached there after 5 minutes of walk into the forest. We were there in the water…almost – but I don’t have more than 20 words to describe it right now- hence upon the importance of journey over the destination.
Next morning we said goodbye to Kasturiakka and Shantiakka. We asked them how much we shall pay – they told us whatever we wish. This was an unique but uneasy situation for us. And this was another testimony to their simplicity and sweetness.
There were few other places we visited like one view point and Srimane water falls which were also decent places to visit.
The fear of leeches prevented us from conquering Narasimh parvat. We had heard of few temples in Sringeri. We decided to not stress ourselves and spend some time in those temples (and search for an answer or two, to our existential questions :))
Temples are usually not a place for us, at least for me . So I was wondering what we will do there. But we were in for a nice surprise there also.
The temple that we visited was the first muth established by Adi Shankaracharya, a 8th century old structure, located on the river of Tunga. The architecture was marvellous.
We were thinking of where to have lunch but then surprise surprise -we found that that muth offers free lunches also.
We spent time on the banks of river Tunga watching, observing
One Cutie tagging along her mother
as it was happening around us.
We sat inside a small temple.As heavens poured, we relaxed, we talked, talked about smartphones, job, religion, girls(never too far from male mind), the trip, Barkana, Kasturiakka, life – every topic under the clouds…well, there was no sun.
In a nutshell, during those two days, we had an encounter with life.