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Monday, September 12, 2005
Back after a brief hiatus.Returned from the so-called "Industrial Visit" today morning.Spent 3 days in Kerala in Cochin and Munnar.A very eventful tour which I would not forget for ages particularly the return trip to chennai.A summary:

Friday:Reached ernakulam town.Visited Golgati fort and Vasco-da gama memorial in cochin island.The journey by boat in the backwaters was fantastic.This was the only place we visited for the day.After lunch at about 4pm,left for Munnar by bus.Reached munnar at 9pm.

Saturday:Spent the whole day in Munnar.Set off for rajamalai estate at about 9am by jeep.The roads were too narrow for buses.Twelve people were stuffed into the jeep with me at the stepney,one leg in,one out, bearing the rain.Reached a place called Rajamalai estate.This place had only a few little waterfalls to boast of.Otherwise it was just a small stretch of gravel winding its way into kodaikanal.I along with 12 other guys trekked along the road until we reached a point that had a board that read "Limit ends here.Do not go beyond this point".But we were in an adventurous mood that day and we ventured further for 2kms until we reached a place that looked like a viewpoint.Stopped there to take photos only to find ourselves confronted by blood-sucking leeches(little ones).

Half a dozen leeches found their way to my feet and I had a tough time driving them away.Only later did someone in the group told us to check the gap between our toes.I was horrified to find two long leeches.With a small twig,I drove them away.Thankfully not a drop of my blood had been sucked.But the leeches had a good time with the other guys from whom they got "Osi A+/B+..."We decided to go back.On the way back the caretaker of the estate vented his anger at us for going beyond the limit.However he calmed down when I and one of my friends talked to him all the way.

The moment we got back to our rooms,we stripped ourselves to find if any leech had managed its way into our bodies.The rest of the day passed off uneventfully and we visited a waterfall,a dam and a lake.Started off for Cochin at 5pm.Reached at 10.

Sunday:The plan was to visit alapuzha and kumarakom but that meant getting up early.We were too lazy to rise early after watching TV all night(I didnt watch cos I'm nalla payyan.I woke up at 530am to find the TV still on and the others dozing).Eventually the plan changed was changed and we visited Athirapally waterfalls some 60kms frm Cochin.On the way back we visited Chottanikkarai temple.Returned to the hotel at 530pm.

We were to return by Madras Mail at 7pm from ernakulam town.Our tickets were,unfortunately,waitlisted and we reached the station early to plan a strategy.Only 7 people had their reservations confirmed.The plan was to drop all heavy luggage with those 7 while the others would sit in groups of 4 per berth which meant we had to travel sitting all the way.The TTE too allowed this but not for long when at palghat,another TTE entered and scowled at us all to vacate the coach and get into unreserved.We were not prepared to get into UR.We didnt have any quarter or tirupati laddoos so our group leader shelled out 200 bucks and the TTE gave in.He told us to sit near the entrance.This was where my tale of woes began.

As is the case of any train in kerala this one was damn old,some 167 years old.I settled myself along with 3 others near the entrance but the stink from the toilet prevented us from getting any sleep.The place was equally bad at the other end too.I looked for some space in one end of the next coach only to find 5 of my friends cuddled against one another trying to get some sleep.I finally found a place at the other end of this coach and one in the 5 guys joined me.I managed to get some sleep till erode.Then,upto salem I was simply loitering from one coach to the other since i lost hold of my sleep thanks to the coffee at erode.A family of four got down at salem and at once 6 people were pushed into the empty berths,2 per berth(the other one was grabbed by one passenger who had been sitting in the toilet right from thrissur).

It was extremely suffocating,sleeping with a guy of equal size as me and so I got down and started loitering again.When the train neared jolarpet,a guy from the side lower berth took his suticase and walked away.I sat on his berth waiting for him to return but to no avail.I comfortably settled myself there and after that it was a peaceful sleep upto tiruvallur.I avoided the Cooum odour at vyasarpadi thanks to my blocked nose,result of getting drenched in munnar.Reached Central 45 minutes late.This was expected since this was a kerala train.Finally I boarded route no.4,returned home,took bath, dozed off to compensate for the lack of sleep in the train and woke up only after 4 hours.A well-deserved break,I should say.

P.S:The irony is that we did not visit a single industry during the tour.

PPS Looking at the urban infrastructure of cochin,the kerala train that always runs late & never is neat and the ghat road to munnar,i wondered if it is really god's own country.The traffic movement in ernakulam made me feel "namma madras evlavo better".
Property of Sheks @ 10:06 pm  
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Name: Sheks
Home: Madras, TamilNadu, India
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