Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Coorg Chronicles - Chapter I

It is 22:20 on the 3rd of June when S and I arrive at Kempe Gowda Bus Station (a.k.a Majestic Bus Depot), in the heart of Bangalore. It's cold, it's wet, the weather is glorious - and I am throughly annoyed. Why, you ask?

Well, primarily because S, beloved soulmate and now favourite travel-mate has me trekking over and under smelly, slovenly, sleazy archways, carrying a heavy bag and my tripod, searching for cigarettes. Even when I smile sweetly at a conductor and ask where to buy them AND receive accurate directions, S still knows better - having gone to Majestic twice in three years in Bangalore. Never mind, I tell myself, as we buy smokes at the conductor-directed tea stall. This, too, shall pass.

Back at Majestic and we're trying to figure out where platform 7 is to board the "luxury bus" that will take us to Coorg. We locate the platform and S now goes about the business of being a man - finding the right bus. I am both nettled and amused by his telling me "Stand here, on the side, and wait. I'll find out about the bus - don't go anywhere!" But I decide not to argue and stand quietly in my corner because this is going to pass, remember?

Oh alright, alright! In all fairness, S means extremely well since about 5 different men have tried to rub up against me in the 200 foot walk from the entrance to the platform. Bombay or Bangalore, street harassment doesn't seem to change, now does it?


In short order, settled into the bus and beginning to unwind, I am impatiently waiting to toast our trip with a dose of Avomin each, being motion sick as both S and I are. At 23:05, we are now officially on holiday. On our way to Gonicoppal and then Kutta, South Coorg. To five self-indulgent days of pork curry and homemade wine. To rain, coffee estates, and the middle of nowhere. To serious quality time with S and clearing up head space - for the both of us.

The first crater on the "highway" reels me out of my soothing soliloquy. I close my eyes and attempt sleep, and finally settle into an uneasy, fitful dozing which the rain imitates. I close the window only to nearly break it open five minutes later. The fetid breath and sweat of 35 other people necessitates braving the rain and cold all night. No matter. I'll be in Coorg soon.

All of sudden, it is 05:00 and we get off, bleary-eyed, at Gonicoppal Bus Stand. S, standing surrounded by me and the luggage, is on the phone with the taxi driver, Dharamaja. He informs S that we got off 35 kilometers too early and we should now take another bus to Kutta. It seems we were to get to Gonicoppal and inform Dharamaja to expect us in 90 minutes. Informing him did not involve getting off at Gonicoppal. Small detail, I presume.

Now usually, I'm not at my best even at 11:00 if I've just woken up. At 05:00, after a bad night and faced with championship like this, I'm not likely to be anybody's best friend. S, knowing this, is smiling at me almost coquettishly in an attempt to placate me. But he doesn't need to. I smile (!), climb into the main hall and sit down to wait... and watch a town wake up.

I am still taking it in when the 06:40 bus arrives. S and I clamber on and find ourselves a seat . I place S's bag between us on the seat and S just stares. Apparently his bag was taking up the place of another person and he'd be damned if he'd just watch. I try reason - if someone needs to sit, we'll put the bag into the rack. Or bitchy and tired as I am, we'll let them stand.

But no! The bag must go and it must go now. Fine. With little further ado or ceremony the bag is dumped onto the rack and S and I are now taking in the road to Manchalli, where we must get off. Unfortunately, I don't remember very much because I kept nodding off. The snatches I see look like the South India I encountered in Kerala with huge white-washed houses with red tile roofs.

I finally wake in Manchalli because Dharamaja stops our bus in the middle of the road to ask if "Datta" was on board. That's us! Now what happens next is priceless. The offending bag, relegated to the rack? S lifts it off only to find that it is soaked through. The rack, you see, had a layer of standing water, which S neglected to check on. It is all I can do not to howl triumphantly but I settle for a smug smile.

It is only a three kilometer ride to the Chilligeri Estate Home Stay. But it is a ride through mile upon mile of paddy fields steeped in water and tract upon tract of terraced agriculture stretched out in all directions. The only word to describe this place is green - and not just beautiful. I smile as the fact that I'm truly on holiday sinks in.

14 comments:

Geetanjali said...

Ok curiosity's bg-time piqued...I know the scan's got screwed up, but can't wait to see the pics after this initia descrip of the journey (of which only the last bit hints at the beauty of the place!) :-)

SaidBack said...

Look at it this way. If it were a regular trip where everything occured according to plan... it wouldn't have been so much fun.

Some amount of "championship" is necessary, no?

Eleventy Seven said...

Missy... you write beautifully.
What imagery!
I cant wait for the next one.

And pictures??

You got me all hooked now.... travel tales are my all time fav.

Ash said...

Sound slike a fun trip.. I'm looking forward to the rest of the chronicles :)

Nocturne said...

there you go again, dispensing sunshine and smiles all the way from coorg to toronto. ;)

S said...

Well.. Its fun to see the same incidents from someelse's perspective.. I should too say that I am hooked.. Though I cringe at the thought of how some of them might come out.. :)

And I should tell you people that I still havent been let into any of the snaps.. What happened to all the next day posting promises.. I hope its not a punishment for my elusiveness..

And since I dont say it often, its better to document it that this trip has been a rare combo of soul searching, love finding, awesome eating, bond forming, breathtaking beauty and an emotional, social and mental reboot and that I've finally discovered an awesome travel companion and a soulmate.. And I'm sure this is just the first in a series of lots such more.. Though we have to check their motorable feasibility, preferable a deluxe one.. :)

Extempore said...

@Geets: I've been writing the posts but I think you'd hit me if I don't post photos as well. Those will come back only this weekend. Will post as soon as I have photos in my hand.

@Pepper: Hell, yeah! If my trips, whether train or bus, didnt have assorted championship attached to them, I think I'd be disappointed as hell!

@Saurabh: Why, thank you, my dear. You are indeed too kind - and have been for a while now. What've you been smoking! :P

@Ash: Thank you! Will be posting them soon - will let you know!

@Nocturne: Thank you! That's such a lovely thing to say. :-)

@S: Now you don't need to worry. The championship is what made that trip as wonderful as it was! Am waiting to send you pics and to post only till I get the damn scans back! You saw me write the posts every night, now didnt you?

Blue Athena said...

It's a wonderful feeling to be on a holiday and enjoy it to the hilt!
You put it across well. :)

lakesidey said...

Waiting for moooooore! It's been 2 weeks dear....

Viewer said...

Vacation... i too crave for one ...

Nice piece on ur travel .. Enjoy ur vacation gal :)

gd said...

Then?

lakesidey said...

I give up on hearing from thee again....

Parth said...

Coorg sounds inviting. Please heed to Geetanjali's threat and post pictures.

Subhransu said...

Can u plz let me know where to book the ticket from bangalore to coorg (Gonicoppal)....