Lost in a forest

survivetheforest

Yet another from the Lost Series.. Reading Time Max.10 mins Words:1530

It was quite some time you had been thinking of driving through a forest and your dreams turned a reality last month when your visa came home along with your passport through a friendly travel agency where Mike or Mac made it possible for you? The travel flight to to the  airport at Tiguasa was itself a 7 hour saga with a 3 hour overlay at Kanwabe airport where there was this one flight every alternate day to Tiguasa you had taken. This place was situated in the expanse of the 500 hectare forest reserve that had been carved out of the 2000 plus hectare woods of Sagwarosa where all sorts of wild life abounded.

The gamekeeper office had given strict instructions for everyone to follow. The visitors should slice themselves in the 8 passenger traveler bus that would take you through the heart of the game as they called it. The first trip would start off at 9 am and end at 4 pm and was properly charted for the inmates of the bus to see most of the wild life that abounded in Tiguasa. Not much of the great cats were here save the occasional leopard and a few old lions somewhere hidden away from these day trips made in the bus.

Coming back to the itinerary for the day. It had begun well with a decent breakfast with a lot of vegetables coupled with Brown bread and a serving of hot coffee mixed with coco lending it a chocolate taste. The bus or van as it appeared was rumbling away as the 6 passengers ascended it. It already has a seated driver (who it seems is a new guy substituting for someone else who seemed sick today) who would flash a beaming smile at every occupant including you as they got seated. The cushions in the seats were a bit old and torn of at a few places especially at the edges making you think of what did happen while the tourists eyed some creature that came their way.

The bus took off on a winding and dusty track such that the dust from it would come into the bus at times. The air conditioner of the bus was built in legendary times since it did little to cool the inside and appeared to be more of an oven rather than a cooler. At the back of the bus where there is enough room can be seen lying a bunch of bananas.

It is at this time you pass a cursory glance at your fellow occupants. There were it appeared by the magnetism of the mannerisms two couples and an elderly gentleman. Sensing your glance, the elderly gently put out of his hand to introduce himself. The name is Stein and when your hands shook his, it nearly shook your complete self. Others also joined in..John and his wife Rita. Lin with his pretty wife Long who appeared in her early twenties.

You are sitting in the left rail with Stein in the front row whereas the 2 couples are chatting on the right wing of the green bus. The driver is humming a song in his language looking back every now and then for appreciation but then all occupants eyes are busy scanning for any forest native who might grace that way. First sighting was of a fox who was disturbed from his sleep by the mechanical Fargo bus and meandered his way to a better sleeping place or to wash his face you would never know.

Then came a flash of parakeets with long tails and a fast of yellow on natural green. They created quite a commotion as they flew over the starboard side only to disappear into the distance.

On the right side after a ride of 15 gruelling mins, there appeared a large natural pool that looked more of a waterhole with an assortment of animals quenching their thirst and preparing themselves for the day ahead. A small gathering of deer, a resident hippo and a few buffaloes could be seen. You fish out your digital camera as you saw others do the same and start shooting pictures of the silent hurdled group. The deer are on alert ready to bound at the first sign of danger, the hippo has a tired look at the bus as if he has seen this for quite some time. The buffaloes seem to be in two minds whether to move on, or share some space with the hippo. After a few minutes of anchor, the bus moved on to another place this time where the bushes and shrubs gave way to a bunch of trees with hanging branches. The trees look properly watered as the green leaves on them make you think so.

What was that? there now, you could hear some chilling cries of some animals, and before you can connect the sound to their owners, there appear a few elephants on a rampage, it seems one was trying to get away from others. He finds way through the narrow road and the thickets and almost overturns the bus. The other bunch is playfully behind him but they are a bit slow as they see the bunch in the bus including you and drop their investigating trunks in the now fully stopped bus. Where are the passengers and the driver? They have somehow gone and ran for their lives, as you were wonder struck with the trunks of the playful mammoths. You had some sense in you to get out of the seat and drag those banana plantains to the near reach of the trunks of those medium sized elephants. They grabbed it out of the open windows just as you were transferring it to them. In a jiffy, they disappeared after they had gobbled up the food, leaving you to yourself.

Taking the bottle of water in the small bag, you get down and start jogging on the look out for your fellow passengers who are nowhere in sight. The jogging person in you makes a bunch of monkeys come down from their lodgings and try to harass you or that is what you thought allowing your legs to make a dash out of that scene, to a much thicker part of the woods. The next bus should be on the way in another half an hour, but you are reluctant to go anywhere near those monkeys who now have stay put on the road.

There are quite a collection of trees here as they give you cool shade and it would be better to climb a branch or two to be on the safe side. As you grace up a tree holding on to the tighter twigs that support you as you ascent, some sticky substance on the branch make you lose grip and cause you to fall headlong as the twigs give way and you land with a thud on the soft sand below.

You don’t know how long you were in that state, and by the time you are back to your senses, it is dusk, you get up with a nasty headache and take some time to find your bearings. It was a wonder that you were safe on the ground all these hours, maybe the forest goddess was taking care of you all this while. The bag has fallen some place and you search for it with final success among the fallen leaves. Grabbing a gulp or two from the water bottle, your senses are alerted to some noise coming this way and you try to scamper up another tree but it seems your left leg has a tearing pain and is unable to help you much in the process. After making a couple of attempts, you try to flee to somewhere near the road, that is some meters away. There on the road, you try to stay and before you can think you see two hyenas at around 50 yards walking towards you.

That is it, you think, this is the end of me, I was supposed to be killed here and you resign yourselves to the fate in front of you. But the winds of luck change in your favor instantly as the same rampaging group of elephants come your way from the right in their usual frolicking manner and when they see you, they are delighted and stay put amusing you with their trunks resting on your shoulders, some on your stretched palms wondering what else you have got for them.

A few more minutes, a motor car grunting across the road comes to a halt, and a couple of rangers get down to salvage you as the elephants gladly make way for them, and you are so happy to see some human faces now. Upon enquiries, you were glad to know that the co-passengers and the driver had met the ranger’s vehicle minutes after they had dashed out of the bus. Now that the day trip had come to a close with the Sun bidding bye, the memory of Tiguasa however getting etched for life where you had almost got lost in a forest.

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The Lost Sailor

 

albatross

The high winds struck the stricken boat
with only a lone survivor that was me
the torn sails that resembled some flag
the ropes holding on to it now in tatters.

Fresh water was as scarce to get now
like water in the expanse of a desert
my heart came close to my mouth
whenever the boat somersaulted.

No life was in sight anywhere near
save a lone white bird in the distance
was that a friendly albatross circling
checking upon me and giving me hope?

I look up on my rations, my  treasures
how valued  more than pieces of gold
no sight of land or rocks or any ships
how long Lord will I endure this state?

My plight echoed by the crying bird
it kept me company circling for long
my eyes riveted on that hovering giant
how long I know not as I rested below.

Left to my tidbits of biscuit and water
I was to wait till good providence came
patience now a virtue, as was meditation
was I glad to see a ship coming this way?

As  they finally hauled my good self up
a bird that had kept up with a lost sailor
had now vanished in the misty evening
wonder who it was, that gave me hope?

The ride home

It was on May 28th, 2017 with the monsoon just about to pour its oblations over Kerala, the southern state in India, that I decided to take a scooter ride from Trivandrum ( the capital of Kerala) to Kochi ( the commercial capital of Kerala). It was a Sunday and I had purposely scheduled this ride so that there would be less traffic to negotiate.

My scooter, a Honda Activa roughly reaching an age of 10 years, was with one of my colleagues, as I had to go to the middle east in a hurry on a project 2 years ago. I seriously doubted if I could make the long ride, a distance of 200 kms from Technopark area to Kochi. I was not sure about the condition of the roads in this stretch and was worried if it would rain heavily that could slow down my progress towards home. Riding in the rain and especially after sun set would be taking too much of a risk. Adding to it, was the fact that I had not touched or rode a scooter in the last 2 years, not that it mattered much, but it also was one of the facts that went against making the solo ride.

I took the morning Vanchinad Express from Ernakulam South station, at 5:00 AM and reached Kazhakkoottam, the railway station next to Technopark @ TVM where this train had a halt. The train journey was good, as I was savoring it after a long time, and standing at times at the door taking in the mist and aroma of the early morning Kerala coast did good to the senses. A light breakfast that consisted of vada and chutney that had too much of chilies in it went well with a cup of coffee to wash it down. I wished it had been prepared by the likes of Raja and Mani from my earlier post ( King of Breakfast Times) The train was on time and reached my intended drop off point at 9:40 AM, where Siva had come to pick me up with another colleague Bony. We three were at Siva’s flat in another ten minutes and from his balcony, could see the Arabian sea all eager to ravage the coast with the help of the slight monsoon winds that were picking up.

technopark
Technopark @ Trivandrum

After a meal of hot steaming dosas and chutney this time prepared by Remya, Siva’s wife, with tea and a chat of around an hour, I decided that it was high time that I started with journey back home. It was 10:30 AM. My plan was to reach before dusk while covering the 200 kms on National Highway 66, say by 6 PM and for that I had to run at an average of 30 plus kilometers.

The towns that came fast were : First stretch of 34 kms was Attingal at around 11:15 AM, a diversion due to some reason at the town centre because of which about 5 mins was lost. Not much traffic and good roads so far increased my confidence and a grip on the scooter.

I cruised into (second stretch from Attingal 38 kms) my second town Kollam (Quilon in old times Geography that we studied) without much of a traffic and good roads not yet spoilt by the summer rains. Things looked good so far. At Kollam at around 12 noon, I ventured over the first fly over that took me over to the western side, which was a mistake on my side but nevertheless slowly I came back on the right track, not much of a time was lost in this unforced error ( as in lawn tennis).

The third stretch into Kayamkulam town would take another hour as there was about 42 kms to negotiate. On the way I passed other stations like Haripad, and somewhere while I was near to Kayamkulam at around 1:15 PM, I saw a KTDC (Kerala Tourism Development Corporation) restaurant while speeding and thought this was the best time to have lunch and some rest, before I ventured towards Allepey. It was a buffet style vegetarian for me, which took around half an hour combined, to fill my plate and eat.

Post Lunch, session to Allapuzha or Alleppey that lay at a distance of 48 kilometres from Kayamkulam. I left the restaurant at around 1:45 and as I sped towards the coir industry famous Alleppey , I could see the Sea with a high tide just meters away from the highway. With the cool monsoon wind and the clouds giving me enough shade I was not getting tired still nor the air cooled engine of the scooter was getting hot.

I was cruising into Allapuzha town at the required pace when a congregation of the women’s organisation Kudumbasree had just finished and we could see hundreds of women coming out onto the streets, and with police personnel to check the traffic, things did get slowed down here. I took the highway again after meddling through the good old coastal town, and called up home at 4:00 PM to share my co-ordinates. Another 60 kms remaining and with the drive having another good one and half hours left in it. That is when the first rains of the day struck me and it was quite heavy, so I had to stop at a wayside furniture shop before the rain could cool down a bit.

After waiting for about 10 minutes, I pulled out my rainy gear and again ventured out and revved up to keep the rain clouds behind me, the roads look recently maintained in this part of Alleppey to Cherthala stretch and the ride was a dream to the outskirts of Kochi which I reached by 5:20 PM near Vytilla junction, the only busy junction during the whole day. It was another 20 minutes before, at around 5:45 pm, a long journey with an average of around 35 plus kms per hour, ended at Kakkanad and more importantly safely, and I thank the Almighty for that.

Drowned

beach

You have been warned : Do not go further, there is danger ahead.

The still waters beckoned me as my little footprints made their imprints upon the hot dry sand from the now setting Sun which was once at its zenith only a few hours ago. As the cool waves lapped at my feet tickling me, needless to say,  they were now beckoning to get in more of my self into the blue expanse lit only by a distant horizon and a few stars making their appearance.

I could feel the embrace of the heavy stillness around my waist pushing me ever so slightly, in all directions, four directions I had been taught in school. I never had experienced so much soothing, as if somebody had applied the healing balm all over me. The timid mind had made its plunge into the deep even before, though the body ever so careful made steps with my tiny legs that had now started to complain to me that the water though helping it to hold on was also pushing the weight of my fear into the quick sands that were quickly forming. But as egged on, as I used to walk with parents, I persisted to walk ahead into the inviting spectacle.

When the plush waves pushed with me playfully, I tried to balance with my hands trying to use them as paddles, oars or fins, oh I could see my vocabulary was slowly failing me. The shadow of fear that had appeared quite some time ago in my messy head was now standing next to me, not helping me, but standing still, waiting for me as my mother did, to take care of my ablutions.

I looked out to the beach, how far was I away from the people walking upon it, the playful children creative as they could get with the sand. I could see some navigating the now invisible thread of their playfully wielded kites and the hawkers trying their best to get in a morsel or two of the food in their cans into the mouths of the visitors. Shout I did as as I was slowly drifting away, the sea taking  with it, poor me, as it retreated for the evening but all I could manage was a croak. Was it because of the salt that had gotten into me or had  I become an amphibian after settling in this water for some quite some time. My skin needed to breathe, my pale self not helping,  the fish scurrying desperately getting away from a stranger who never knew or learned to swim like them. There was no log of wood for me to hold on, nor one to write my last wishes for the dear people whom I left back on the beach.

Had they noticed my absence, the dusk fast giving away to darkness, my head and frail hands that bobbed up once in a while, was it visible to them, to anyone who gazed at the deep sea or the arc of the horizon, I knew not. The body got heavier by the minute and whatever air in me gave way to the water now gushing in with a pinch of salt. Water, I was taught was life giving, but my small body could never handle too much of it. The ocean was now feeding me what it knew best, to intruders who had never understood how to step into it. Oh dear mother,  if only I had listened to you and had not wandered off into the deep water when you were not looking. I sent you on an errand so that you could not see me running into the vast expanse of bluish water which had always enchanted me, a place of wonder where a lot of my imaginative characters dwelt.

I know the lunch with the wonderful curry you fed with your hands seems to be, my last feed of the day as I now rest myself on the floor of good old nature, bidding bye to all my worries, my unanswered questions and rest now. My tired body has sunk, buried by a thin layer of sparkling sand, a blanket against the increasing cold of the heavy rumble above me. How I, fervently wish, I might be a floating log tomorrow for my loved ones to reclaim and rebury along with their fond memories of me…

beach2

 

Manama, Bahrain

Beautiful travelogue on Bahrain by one of my WordPress friends Rasma. Enjoy!

yamarella

bah

Our armchair travels have taken us to Bahrain. This is a nation that consists of over 30 islands in the Persian Gulf.

 bah causeway 2

The King Fahd Causeway is a series of bridges and causeways that connects Saudi Arabia to Bahrain. The causeway was built to improve the links and bonds between these two countries. It was officially opened to the public in 1986.

bah manama

Its modern capital Manama has left a lot of history behind for visitors to delight in instead of creating an ultra-modern city of steel and glass. The modern nicely blends in with the ancient history.

bah national 2

The Bahrain National Museum is the country’s most popular attraction. Visitors can get a great introduction to its history here. The highlights are the archaeological finds from ancient Dilmun, the reproduction souq covering Traditional Trades and Crafts on the first floor and the satellite photo of Bahrain which takes up most of…

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Kera Kerala

The land of coconuts ( Kera for coconut) . No wonder some of us drive others nuts or ourselves go nuts.

That said, it is still a great place.

Currently am here on vacation, the weather being hot, not surprising though as Indian summers are always simmering.  I plan to come back here for good in the month of May before the monsoon arrives 🙂

Please have a look and like my page on facebook listed below:

https://www.facebook.com/sunithkollara/

Photo below is from my native home at Thrissur.

cpny.jpg.jpg
Home is where the heart is

 

Poem in Vain

 

All the while me and my wife Jane

Had dream’t of flying to far off Spain
tickets we did not obtain in any plane

She asked how the dream would sustain
I told her we could always get a train
that passed through the terrain of Spain

We had barely got into a  crowded train
when it started to mighty heavily rain
having the crowd seeming so insane
only one person Jane,  she looked sane.

When I started looking at her again
she seemed to be in some sort of pain
efforts to reach to her were all in vain
when, of a sudden, our train hit a crane
that somehow got stuck in wet terrain.

We seemed to lose contents of our brain
comforting, as in, no gain without pain,
could you tell, amid tears, are we in Spain?
the strain was much, though, to ascertain
we looked like people hit with dirt cocaine
though in our plan was, old Champagne…

P.S
This poem came to me with the recent rains in Bahrain.

 

Vacation Times

Just to let my dear friends know..It is vacation time for me starting next week as I fly back home, to India, and will be there till September 15.

Having said that, I wish to call some of you up. So please drop me a line to my email with your contact details, if you can..We can graduate to email pals.

Bornonafriday@gmail.com

Now why born on a Friday, you may ask. That is another story:)

Travelling in Trains – Mumbai Edition.

There was a time I was one of the many footboard travellers on a Mumbai aka Bombay train. These days am out of touch and am comfortable boading a dubai metro..

Perceptions

Commuters in an open train door at Churchgate ... Commuters in an open train door at Churchgate Station in Mumbai. Notice the sign by the door which states the carriage is for ladies only during certain times. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Making a journey in a Mumbai Local is an experience in itself. If you have been to this city and haven’t boarded a electric train on any of the three routes that ply through the metropolis, it means you have missed half the fun or half the nightmare, depending on the experience….

The daily commuter first walks, then jogs and finally does the steeple chase run to complete the last lap towards the station. The steeple chase is chosen only when he sees the train pulling into the station. During such occasions, everyone like others, just run across the tracks, then on to the station platform. Maybe the local commuter can qualify himself for long jumps and…

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Journey of life

All of us are walking on the road that leads us to our final destination. This is the path that everyone takes in their life and which no one can shun. All get pushed on to this road and walk they have to. Experiences that we gather get tagged as luggage on to us. Some are good whereas some are bad and others best to be forgotten.

These experiences and memories cannot be discarded as each event and action gets etched, some on your body and others most in memory. We get our family members to walk with us in this journey of life where some leave us soon and others stick on till the very end.

Friends come in from different directions as they meet us in their journeys. Some give you company  and lighten the travails of the travel. There are others who confront you with negative motives and who are best to be avoided but not everyone can, as some are forced upon you that leaves you weak and tired to continue the arduous path ahead. The journey is long for some who grumble about it and short for others who enjoy the travel.

The sun, the wind and other elements play their parts when they cross your paths daily as you walk ahead not knowing what is in store for you, a journey where the destination marks the culmination of a life well spent or best forgotten…
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