Saturday, September 03, 2011

How wild can it get

It was August first week when it dawned upon me that I could take 1 day off on Sept 2nd and get 5 days of vacation. There was no plan but I reserved my vacation. Thought I could go to western ghats.

One of my colleagues was interested too. Unfortunately he didn't have a bike. So a search for bikes-for-rent in Bangalore started. I wasn't serious about the search since it wasn't for myself! It was his responsibility to find one.

Even after a week he couldn't get a bike. I had to make alternate plans. Upon a discussion with Susheel, my cousin, we thought best go to kurnool.

The plan: I go on bike from Bangalore. They come by car from Hyderabad. Both of us rendezvous at kurnool. I park my bike at kurnool. We go around in the car for a few days. I get dropped back in kurnool. I drive back to Bangalore. They drive back to hyderabad.

All was good, so made hotel reservation for a couple of days in a place we wanted to visit. Everything was fine until just less than a week before our scheduled departures it started raining. Heavily! I was still okay with the plan but they were not. So, the plan was called off.

I had to cancel the reservation. Since the cancellation charges were the same until 48hrs before check-in, I cancelled just around 50-60 hrs before check-in. Just in case there's a change of mind on their end.

I asked around again if anyone has plans to come with me - my colleague again, and Ananth, IITM batchmate. Neither of them could commit to any plan. So finally I was on my own.

I'd already taken the day off, so can't go to office. I could, but what's the point?!

The first holiday, 31st August

My internet had stopped working the previous day. Phone hasn't been working since several days, probably months. So called up Airtel guys first thing in the morning at 7.30am. He said a technician would come & fix by 1.30pm. That sounded good, it meant I had just half-day gone, rest half to plan or do something.

The Airtel guy however, called at 12.50pm saying he'll come in 5mins. Called again at 1.15pm saying phone has been fixed. Indeed it was. However internet wasn't still working. So he said he'll come in some time. Around 2pm he took my address. Called again around 2.30pm asking for directions. Finally turned up around 3.30pm. Resolved the issue by configuring the modem. All done by 4pm. But I didn't feel like doing anything rest of the day. Just caught up on general news, gadget news, etc.

Sept 1

I was invited to Ganesh puja at cousin's place. Had to go there for lunch. Plan for the day was to make a plan for rest of the vacation! So thought of going to badami house to book some KSTDC tour package, for anything I haven't been to is available.

There I was, at badami house, wondering where I could go. There were some good packages to beaches, hill stations, etc. But I was informed no seats in those packages were available, not even the last row! Should've expected that. There were 2 seats available for the Karnataka temple tour though.

Thought hard for about a minute whether to go or not. If yes, there's no turning back! I'll also have to go alone - me, temples! Almost anyone who knows me well would be shocked to know that I decided to go on this tour, alone!

There were 2 seats available, both in last row. Seat 33 was window, 34 aisle. Just to see if anyone else would come, I chose 34. Any interested person would be happy to take a window seat. Even if no one comes I'd just shift to the window seat.

The already shocked old man was even more shocked when I chose the aisle seat - I was traveling alone, on a temple tour, taking an aisle seat!

It's supposed to begin at 9pm, same day. I had less than 10hrs to start. Went to cousin's place as planned. Came back home by 4pm.

Started packing. Realized I'll be extremely bored since this is a temple tour & there'll only be elderly people, or married couples. Neither of those people I like interacting with.

So went to croma and bought an mp3 player. Didn't want to risk draining my phone's battery.

Came back home by 6pm. Charged all equipment. Copied several Albums onto the mp3 player and was ready to go by 7.50pm. I felt I forgot something. Realized next day morning that it was the soap that I'd forgotten.

Reached badami house by 8.50pm. Boarded the bus (KA01B9144). And we were off. The guide, Shivraj, seemed friendly as usual for any KSTDC tour packages. I had my earphones on until I fell asleep around 10pm. Paused the player, took off the earphones and dozed off.

Around 00.30am just a few km before hassan, the bus was stopped for people to attend to any nature calls.

Sept 2

Woken up by the guide shouting into the bus' PA system to freshen up so that we could visit the temples. We were in kalasa.

I'd to share a room with 2 others. They were as quick as I. Probably seasoned travelers. Anyways, we were all ready & left by 7am.

First in the list was horanadu, annapurneshwari temple. Horanadu, it seems, means town of bulls. I couldn't find one though.

Being a temple of a goddess, male devotees are supposed to remove shirt & banian before entering the temple. Being new to this, I removed mine in the bus itself and walked around half naked in the chilling rain, holding an umbrella and wearing blue jeans!

Almost everyone else removed their shirt & banian just before entering the temple & wore back on after coming out. I didn't feel like the smartest, but didn't mind. Just went ahead.

Had the free breakfast. Went back to the bus which was now parked a few hundreds of meters away from the entrance. It meant I'd have to walk barefoot all the way on the road. It was prickly but didn't feel as bad as I'd imagined it could be.

Restored my dignity by covering my top half of the body. Took some pics and back in the bus.

I was bored already. The mp3 player battery seemed to have lost all its charge. Looks like I hadn't switched it off properly. I'd nothing to do but look around. People sitting around me weren't interested in me, neither was I in them. There were kids around, which meant lots of cacophony!

I just immersed myself into taking pics, looking outside the window. It was raining all day. Very wet and dull weather. Perfect to stay at home, cuddled in a blanket. But this was a tour, conscious decision.

I was a stranger in my own country! Everyone else seemed weird to me. They just didn't care about the surroundings. It seemed like it was just me peering out the window all the time.

On the seat before me was a 6-7 year old kid named vaishnavi. In the rows to my right, they had a 2-3 year old kid named pugal (pronounced as "poo-gull"; yes, sounds strange). Both noisy brats! I was missing my mp3 player badly.

Next temple was kalasekhara temple. Nothing much there. Though the guide mentioned we needn't take off our shirt/banian, the guard outside the temple gate forced us to take off the the shirt/banian. Came out, took some pics again.

When in bus, waiting for other tourists to board, the guide came to me and had a short conversation. He'd first assumed I was a north-indian. He expressed his surprise that I was on a temple tour. I replied saying I'm not coming to visit any temples, but to go around western ghats before coming by bike. This is a trial to get a taste of how the roads are and what it's like. So far I've been quite impressed.

Next was sringeri. Reached by 1pm. Went around for a while, took some pics. Had the free lunch. Started to the next place around 2pm.

Next was kollur. 95 km. Having so many old people and kids on board meant frequent nature calls. After a few hours, he was stopping almost every 15pm mins. So finally at around 6 pm, took a half-hour break and also allowed tea/coffee. Probably a good thing because there weren't any more stops after that until we reached kollur.

Kollur is in a thick forest. Some of the common animals, as told by the guide, were king cobra, bison, etc. I couldn't spot any of them - it was well past 7 pm by the time we reached. It was dark too.

Just had enough time to visit the temple & have the free dinner!

Unfortunately for me, the free food served by these temples didn't seem nutritious enough. So had a large chocolate bar that I'd brought along, just perfect for these situations!

Started writing this blog after reaching the room, it's been 2-3 hours, I think. I've written all this using my phone, SGS2. So excuse any typos/errors!

Another 2 days to go. Let's see how it goes. First place tomorrow is on a beach. Got to be in the bus by 5.30am. Means bye-bye folks!

Continued here.

1 comment:

  1. Good till now...
    Recharge the batteries whenever possible, even when half full...
    Happy journey bro...