I had mentioned in my previous posts about the various adventures that we used to have during my post graduation days in Coimbatore. Most of the action that had been written on was in Central Travancore, mostly in and around Kottayam. But there had been no shortage of such adventure in Malabar too.
It was during the fourth semester. There was very little of academics going on, and the focus in those days was more on the impending final semester exams and getting our resume’s through to any of the leading corporate across South India. And most of the idle time, we used to make good use by going home and enjoying the relatively more comfortable and better climate of God’s own country.
It was one of those evenings in March 2005 that I decided to return from one such vacation from home, back to Coimbatore. My intention was to rest for a couple of days before the college reopens for a small session of academics, and then to be back home again. I took the regular Airbus from Kannur at 8 pm, and reached Coimbatore early morning at 4am.
A small nap till the dawn broke, and waking up, I found the rest of the gang in an animated discussion. They were planning something for the impending weekend. My mind was telling me it was going to be yet another trip to Kottayam or its neighbourhood, so there was a total lack of interest to this topic of discussion from my side. Also, the previous days travel had made me a lot tired, and I was least interested in moving on with one more tiring journey to add up to my already packed itinerary.
We were quite a strong group, so the negativity in one of us usually puts off the entire group. So when my negative vibes were going round, there was a shift in focus from the entire group. There was frantic calls being made, new locations scooted, and finally it was Tharun, from the heart of Kottayam, who suggested a road trip to North Kerala.
The guys from Kottayam were naturally interested, by we from that part of the world were in two minds. It would be places and things that we had seen for most of our lives, nothing new. Nevertheless, keeping in view the sentiments of our friends from the other part of Kerala, we decided to embark on the trip.
Nothing much was clear about where we were heading to and what we were going to do there. All that could be noted along the way was that Tharun was continuously over the phone, talking to someone quite seriously. We had set off from Coimbatore during the late afternoon. Both Tamil Nadu and Kerala were quite hot during that month, and the journey through Palakkad to Kozhikode was quite uncomfortable.
We reached Kozhikode late in the evening. Our plan for the day was to spend the night at Saneesh’s home, and from there, to move to a place recommended by Tharun, which he said was a good place for a getaway. It was for this place that he was frantically talking on the phone.
So the night well spent, we were off to Kozhikode town in the morning. This was where we were supposed to meet Basheer, a family friend of Tharun under whose guidance was our journey supposed to be taken forward.
Basheer was quite an interesting character. We were expecting someone of our age (considering that he was a friend of Tharun) to pop up, but what we saw was much more senior (maybe in the early 30’s) person, a young politician, quite influential in his local stronghold. He moved around with his friend, who looked more like his bodyguard, in a Mahindra Classic Jeep. The caricature was a typical nature, like in most of the Malayalam movies of those times.
I was quite impressed by the looks. And it did not take long for him to impress with his deeds too. The first stop that he made after picking us in the jeep and a round of self introduction was to stop the vehicle at the nearest outlet of Beverage Corporation.
Blessed!!! So it was going to be quite a night, with a case of Kingfisher strong in our custody. And more, he managed to get this without the regular queue that the average malayalee would have to stand in to by foreign liquor from the BevCo outlet. We realised how influential he actually is.
So, our adventure was on. We were really not sure where we were going to until Basheer started clearing up or questions. We were going to Kakkayam dam, which was on the eastern corners of Kozhikode district, on the high ranges of the Western Ghats. There, using his influence, Basheer had arranged accommodation in the Inspection Bungalow of Kerala Water Authority (which otherwise would be given out only to visiting high level government officials).
Photo courtesy Mathrubhumi
The journey uphill was just like the numerous other journeys that had been made to the hills of Kerala. On the way, we got to hear various stories of the place, like the history of Naxalism, the cruelties during the era of emergency, all of which, the IB where we were going to lodge was an important character. All these gave an interesting prologue to our journey.
We reached the IB at Kakkayam around 7pm. The darkness had not totally set in, and in the mild light, the view of the dam and the hills from the IB was a breathtaking sight. It was the beauty of Malabar that was in its full view.
There was more of luck in store for us. As soon as we were left there, we saw Aneesh racing off with the jeep, and soon back with a can full of some of the best toddy available.
I was resigned to the thought that the plan would be to eat, drink and sleep at the IB the whole night. But Basheer had totally different plans for us.
We watched the Chapatti getting ready, being cooked by the servant. By that time, we had slipped into out casuals and were quite relaxed. Around 9pm, Basheer told us – “Guys, we are going for a drive”
We saw Aneesh loading the cans of toddy, the case of beer and the chapatti along with a few well dressed chickens (raw) into the jeep. We did not quite know where we were heading to, but was quite sure that it was not going to be a bad idea, as all that Basheer had done till that moment was always appealing for us.
We noticed the jeep heading towards the dam. Soon, Aneesh had us at a beautiful side of the dam, where the waters were perfectly serene; there was a good spot of beautifully designed grass carpet by nature, and perfectly surrounded by dense forest land. Before we could fully enjoy the beauty of the setting, we saw Aneesh set up a campfire and there were two chickens that were up for roasting.
We made ourselves seated comfortably in the grass, quietly enjoying the divine splendour all around us. It was then that Basheer popped a question to us – “What about a swim?”
Within seconds of this question, the next thing we remember was that all of us were in the waters. The bright moonlight, the nature all round, the chilled waters – all gave a special feeling to those moments. Add to it the beer, toddy and roasted chicken. After all, the only other place where we had seen a mix of alcohol and swim in the same breath was in Mohanlal’s larger than life movies. And the blend of all these had given us the alive and awesome feeling.
It was a few hours well spent in the waters, and we were off the waters past midnight. It took us a long while to recover from the weariness of the night. After waking up well past early morning, we were all ready to move back to college, with the alive and awesome memories of the midnight bath in Kakkayam dam cemented deep in our reminiscences for ever. The perfect blend of friends, nature and the uncharted terra firma of God’s own Country is what makes life truly alive… truly awesome.
This post is written for Cinthol’s new Alive is Awesome marketing campaign.