I don’t know if I mentioned this earlier but my entire Kerala trip revolved on one certain person getting a life sentence…or getting married as it is gently put. Shyam weds Sharanya on 26th May, 2016. Shyam stays in my locality at Ambarnath and needless to say we’ve been great friends. So, here I was riding to Alapuzha after spending 2 days with my dad and relatives in Palakkad. My other friends Calvin, Ashwathi, and Ruchi had already reached Allpauzha travelling in train the previous day. I planned my day in order to reach Alapuzha on 25th by 7 in the evening; hence left Palakkad around 12.30. However, after 30kms I realized I had forgotten my wallet at home. I saw no way out other than to ride back… Phew, so much for my time calculation, I wasted more than 2 hours. Revised time of leaving Palakkad – 2.30 pm.
I’m surprised at the way human mind works, when you are pressed for time, you remember all the things you were supposed to do. I was already short of time yet on way I recollected I had another friend to meet. Sreejith – who is also a friend from Ambarnath. Truth be told, I wanted to meet his gentle giants more than him. Kannan and Nandhan. Guess who?? See the photos that follow. I rode to Amballur, Thrissur nearby the national highway 47 on which I was travelling towards Allapuzha and managed to make the wish of meeting Kannan & Nandhan true.
I was on my way to Kochi when the human mind played its trick again, it struck me that a follower of my Facebook page had expressed his willingness to meet. I called him up on reaching Chalakudy. We headed to a chai shop and had our share of chai suttas. We engaged in a nice conversation and later thankfully I caught the track of time & realized I had to leave. Now here’s where my surprise landed… Jomy gifted me a reflector jacket and 2 packs of Benson and Hedges. Bless him, it was absolutely wonderful of him.
Finally, I reached Vypin. Vypin is Ajith’s native. Speaking about Ajith, Ajith Chandran is a hardcore biker and naturist working in Bangalore. His style of travel matched well with mine and that called for some brotherly bonding. Ajith rode from Bangalore to his native house and I wanted to catch up with him before I reached Alapuzha. He would have to be my stand by designer who would help me buy a mundu and kurta for the next day wedding. It was already 9.30 by the time I finished my shopping. I was now to ride to Alapuzha and make amends to 4 people waiting to rip me apart, after all, I did make them to hold their glasses since 7pm promising to be there in a supposed “hour”. Finally, somewhere around 10, I did reach Alapuzha and crashed hoping to be up in time for Shyam’s wedding the next day. On Shyam’s big day I couldn’t help thinking what some philosopher had said “Marriage can either complete or finish a man. If you marry right, you are complete. But, if you marry wrong, you are finished”. Shyam doesn’t have to worry the latter I guess. Sharanya was truly one cool bride.
With the wedding ceremony over, I was back to planning my next day ride. At 7.45, the next day I met Ajith. Ajith did give me a bit of scare the previous day on 26th. His bike had some wiring issue and he thought his fuel pump went kaput. But, all said and done, the issues were resolved, thanks to the ever friendly and helping folks at the Royal Enfield Service centre who spent the entire day trying to diagnose the issue and finally solving it by identifying the small wiring cut in the fuel injection circuit. Ajith was spared with a total bill of Rs. 350/- where it was expected to change the entire fuel pump which would have costed atleast 12k. Now, we were all sorted & this was the start of the real ride. After a cup of tea and good byes with everyone, me and Ajith set off on the next phase of journey. The first target was to go to Gavi. First stop – Angamoozhy which is a 100 km ride to Gavi and further to Kumily
Western ghats of Kerala… Here I Come.
We set out for Gavi in Periyar riding through Thiruvalla, Pattanamthita, to Angamoozhy but on reaching Angamoozhy, we realized that two wheelers are not allowed on the way to Gavi from Angamoozhy. So, we made few enquiries & took a different route through Mundakaya in Kottayam district to reach Kumily. Ajith being fluent in Malayalam, helped a lot in conversing with locals; unlike me who frequently resorts to million gestures and a mini Bharatnatyam along with my broken Malayalam to get my point across. The route we took was longer & it was already getting dark. We stopped in between for a pee break. Just when we were about to get relieve ourselves, a Maruti 800 car with 4 guys inside stopped right between us. I must mention their exact words
“Have you guys gone nuts to stop at this place?? It’s already late and this region has man eater leopards around. In last 2 months, 2 people have fallen prey to the man eaters and the latest incident was just 2 weeks back.. Do not even think to stop here on this road till the next village.”
Needless to say, we were back on our bikes. It was easy to hold our bursting bladder than be completely devoid of the opportunity to pee again
Just as we started riding further, we saw a path going inside from the main road. The board at the start read way to Nilackal church. We rode 2.5 kms off route and to reach this amazingly pristine and quiet church. I loved the place to the core and me and Ajith stood there getting absorbed in the silence of the environment. The Father of the church happened to come out and we approached him asking if we can spend the night there. He responded saying it needs permission in writing from the higher authorities of the church which will be countersigned and approved by the forest officer of Angamoozhy. Though surprised at the rules, we didn’t want to break them, so we rode back through the forest roads again to the main road.
The dusk settled before we reached Mundakkayam. Riding was proving to be risky now since it was again a forest area. Fortunately, we spotted the forest checkpost and sought permission to pitch our tents. The guard at the checkpost directed us towards the forest officer’s quarters. We were lucky to meet a 36-year-old, nature lover, forest official – Mukesh. On hearing our riding tales and the fact that we rode all the way from Mumbai and Bangalore he was awed. He allowed us to pitch our tents somewhere close to the forest, though not very deep. He assured us his help and gave us the permission to use their washrooms. And that my friends is how we finally had our happy ending for the day.