After an eventful team outing in Mango mist resort, Friday, the 22nd of Feb, Sush, Vrashab, Charan, Suresh and I left to Tirvandrum on a KSRTC bus from Shantinagar bus stand. The bus was scheduled at 4:10 but was one hour late. A very melodramatic tamil film called "Jilla", filled with the poorest of jokes was played on the bus. I dozed off here and there between the film but I think I got most of the meaningless story it was trying to convey in 3 long hours. Somewhere after midnight, I woke up and noticed that the bus was not moving and there were cops checking passenger bags. I got down and learnt that we were undergoing a customs check on all goods being transported between states. The check was to see if the goods were duty paid. As I cribbed about it, a mallu co-passenger felt that though it was delaying us, it was necessary. "What if they transport arms and ammunition?" he said. "Okay!" I thought, with a smile.
So with that and slow driving, we were nowhere close to Trivandrum at 6:00 AM. Thats when we heard our co-passengers speak - Middle aged couple - Ambuja and her husband. As the story revealed, Ambuja is returning from the US after two months; to where she had traveled to attend a wedding. Apparently her husband is very pissed off and jealous about it and complains repeatedly that nobody would even take him to Majestic bus stand. Even if anybody would, he would prefer going alone. He constantly commented on her useless stay in the US to make her feel that she had just travelled thousands of miles to stay between four walls, cooking and washing clothes. On the contrary Ambuja tried to console her husband and proposed plans to go to Singapore and Dubai to make up for it. They even talked of her brother who could take care of their stay. :-) Well I would not want to narrate the entire story but it was extremely funny and the last two hours of our journey was quite entertaining. However, on a serious note, I saw how important it was for the previous generation to travel abroad and I wondered if ageing had anything to do with the sense of inferiority and loneliness. Perhaps it is the previous generation that expects so much from their children, relatives and friends and I hope that as we age we more willingly accept independence and solitude.
Anyway, at 10:30 AM, we met Mak who had traveled on Sharma transports and by leaving 2 hours after us had reached 15 minutes before our bus reached. So the innova that Seb had arranged for us was waiting as well and we drove to Kovalam beach. We were assigned rooms facing the beach and even though it was not the hotel that was booked we did not have any complains about this replacement that they had to offer due to some guests overstaying.
Charan, Suresh and I stepped out to start the day with a cup of tea and some biscuits. The street overlooking the beach, filled with shops looked rather quite and eventless.
We got ready and drove to the church. We were just on time for the wedding ceremony. After a quick lunch we wished Seb and then decided to explore the city. First stop - A cafe inside Mascot hotel as Sush wanted coffee. While he sipped his coffee, we tasted some fresh fruit juice that was very soothing and apt for the terrible humid weather outside. Unable to sit in the garden, we choose to step in to experience the AC interiors.
Napier museum is about a 5 minute walk from the hotel. Beautiful architecture and some ancient artefacts make up this nice palace turned museum.
I particularly enjoyed the art museum that displays some of Ravi Verma’s beautiful paintings. But what surprised me the most was that they were so unprotected, either front he viewers or from the weather. That made me wonder if we even know the value of these paintings. For a while i lost myself in the brush strokes of Raja Ravi verma; in the way he captured the effect of silk, the effect of Claire-obscure in his subjects. I truly enjoyed this visit.
To add to that joy, I also met an old French couple who where visiting india. I had a short conversation with them and they seemed thrilled to see me speak French.
After that we took an auto to Padmanbhaswamy temple; Changed to Panchey as pants are not allowed. The door to main shrine opened at 5:30PM. After a quick darshan we stepped out, went to hotel Anapoorna and had some much needed food. Next stop - shopping for Kerala special snacks and panchey. By the time we were done it was 7:30 PM. We took a local bus to Kovalam beach. It was a fun evening.
After freshening up we walked on the beautiful street next to the beach. Colourful fabrics covered the tiny shops and with the light it seemed to glow with an attractive richness. We had dinner at one the plenty restaurants by the beach. After that we walked on the beach and relaxed there for a while before returning to the room.
Having had sleepless nights and eventful days for sometime, it was impossible to stay awake for a long time; so at 12 we retired to bed.
Next morning, I got up early and walked by the beach watching the place wake up. A funny locality who owns a home stay spoke to me in a made up American accent. He seemed to treat me like one of the foreign tourists by impressing me how he has several people staying in his house and telling me stories about his dog etc. We had tea together at a tea stall run by an old lady whom he seemed to know well. The tea was delicious and most wanted for me at that time of the day. Sush joined me and we walked on the lovely street at Kovalam beach watching the sunrise.
We walked up to the lighthouse where the others joined us. The view from there was excellent.
We tried a local kerala restaurant for breakfast where we had iddiyapam and puttu. After that we headed to the beach. For more than an hour we played in the water as the waves tried to lift us off foot and thrash us back to the ground. We also tried the surf board but with the inexperience that we had it seemed less interesting. At 12:30 it was time to say good bye to Kovallam beach. We left the place after glancing through the attractive but expensive shops.
We took a volvo bus back to Trivandrum. Settled in at Hotel Aryan’s AC interiors for lunch. We split in groups to shop. Mak, Suresh and I choose to hop through shops that had AC. It is practically impossible to visit Trivandrum during this time and stay outdoors all through the day in that hot and humid weather.
Our bus left the city at 4:15 PM. On our way back we enjoyed laughing at a new Kannada film that had a pathetic story with a 80’s treatment. By 7:30 AM we were all back with some good memories of a beautiful beach that has a descent blend of tourists, fun activities and attractive shops. And it is always fun to travel with friends whom you have known for long. There is a level of comfort you share with them.
Photo Credits - Sushanth Kondi and Myself.