Honnemardu: bLogout - Part 1
Long post. I don't want you giving me gyan about the length of my posts. And all those
losersthat never made it, eat this. At least!
The bLogout started on a shaky note. Four people had dropped out and the number of people was 19 on D-day. So, on 17 June, at 2230 hours, all of us met up in the Bangalore city railway station.. By the time we hopped on the train to Shimoga en route to Honnemardu, we didn't even do the introductions part. Nothing special happened on the journey to Shimoga but for two anal retentive guys asking us to shut the hell up. They wanted to sleep. I think people are jealous bitches you know? When they spot a gang of young (well, not so young) people going on a trip, they will look for ways to puncture the happiness and excitement balloon. Like one time when they deliberately bumped a table being used by teeners playing poker games. They did this time too. The train left Bangalore around 2300 hours. And except for the three dudes (Arnie, Venky, and yours truly) the rest were asleep. Also, the fact that the gang was spread all over the compartment made it difficult to hang out. Finally, even the three dudes had to give up talking as the guy in the next coupe said, 'please no disturbance please. If you want to talk, go talk to the door.' We shut up but my curiosity got the better of me and I woke him up after a few minutes and said, 'what did you say sir?' I don't know why he had the helpless, serial-killer look on his face when I asked him that. Anyway, that was that, and we went to sleep.
We reached Shimoga around 0445 hours. Our 'bus train' (a train that runs on a bus engine; has only two coaches) from Shimoga to Talaguppa was at 0600 hours. The Britishers are behind this bus train; they used it to carry supplies to Malanad, or so I heard. We had to cross the tracks and a goods train (stationary of course) to get to platform 4, the abode of the bus train. The left-over darkness from the night before clung on, and the first light was just getting its foot in. It was in that insufficient yet dramatic light that we spotted the bus train. It stood there, rooted to the aging railroad; all beat up by the whiplash of time; like a sad, lonely woman waiting for her man. Any man.
The bus train reminded me of a ripe old man; proud of the past, poignant about the present, and almost certain about the future. About the end that is.
As the night segued (I discovered this word recently hee-hee) into a gloomy, sunless dawn, the bus train lurched forward like a resigned, old horse pulling a Tonga. Ten minutes later I noticed that the one striking thing about this part of the world was the green. It was sickeningly green all over. We chugged on real fine, stopping at non-descript hamlets and eating up the distance like prison meal. The Ticket Collector became a bud thanks to Vasu. We stopped for chai in a village. The driver and the TC both were out. Isn't it funny? 'Can I have one more chai, do we have the time?' and the driver went, 'Sure. Take your time.' I wish every train driver had that luxury. After a couple of chais and some real bad jokes (courtesy Arnie, Venky and me) we moved on. Adel came up with a word game and some how what I thought was a bad idea, caught on and we had a great time. The 'other' gang, the non-bloggers that is, chose to hang by themselves. God knows why. Probably they were sleepy or xenophobic or both?
We reached Talaguppa when the clock struck nine and the sun was hiding behind the dark clouds like a drunk that sold his wife's ring. We found a couple of cabs in downtown Talaguppa. We asked the drivers to wait and headed to the small shack that promised hot breakfast. That's where the 'other' gang broke the ice. After breakfast, the two gangs merged and we started towards Honnemardu in the two cabs. The time was around 1000 hours, there and there abouts.
Honnemardu Day: 1
The cab raced on the wet, dirt road and I could sense a distinct change in the landscape. The bamboo trees lined the road like loyal sentinel. The place looked untouched by the dirty hand. The cab pulled over outside a tile-roofed house in the middle of green nowhere. To our left we spotted the water body. Straight ahead there was a winding, mud road that lead to god knows where. Anjana found a beetle that shrunk itself into a ball when someone touched it. I was thinking what if I stomp you moron? But then did not voice the thought. There were a couple of dogs and to me they looked like Jungle dogs. Even the cows appeared 'wild'. As I was psyching myself to glory, Ganapathi, the CEO, king, prime minister, president of the united states of Honnemardu called for attention. 'No littering, no smoking, no drinking, you do your own shit, be responsible, wear that life jacket, and brush your teeth. Fast!' was the gist of his machine-gun English. I was surprised that these guys from Villages (I assume they had no formal education) spoke the language so well. Queen, your majesty, aren't you proud? Screw Charles, he is a horny bastard, but look at your pet natives and their fierce loyalty!
Anyway, dear reader, let me pause here to give some invaluable advice. If you are one of those city slickers that drinks mineral water, runs on a treadmill, and can't take a crap anywhere else but the john, think twice about going to Honnemardu. It is your ass. Don't tell me I didn't warn you. There are no toilets in Honnemardu. It is not a luxury resort. They don't have rooms for god'ssake. We knew it before we went there and we wont (grit my teeth) complain. There are three Indian style toilets (two of them without real doors) in the basecamp, but don't ask what to do when nature calls you when you are camping on an island. Again, don't go there if you worry too much about all these creature comforts. If I find you writing ill or bad mouthing the facilities in Honnemardu, I will track you down, and bring you down to China town. Okay? Aaaarghhh.
Pics: Kavitha's (to be added: Adel's, Dheepak's, Satheesh's and Anita's.
So, we first did a minor trek to reach another tile-roofed house to dump our luggage. This house was on a hillock that gave a nice view of the dam. We dumped our stuff and climbed down and walked towards the water body. We read on the web about Honnemardu. 'Honnemardu' is supposed to be a village submerged under the Linganmakki reservoir. We knew that the water body is over 150 ft deep, 30km wide and 60km long. and that innumerable islands dotted the water body. Knowing is one thing. Experiencing is another. When the man-made lake presented herself to us, full-view, our jaws dropped. The water was dark green and the lake stretched as far as our eyes carried and beyond. We were in a different place and time. The lake must have gobbled up a lot of trees. Some defiant trees stuck out, only adding to the poignant beauty of the place. There was no trace of civilization. None at all. The thick forests on the islands, though looked like home to a lot of wild life, actually don't host too many animals. Even the birds were far and few between. Or maybe my untrained eye did not know where to look. What is weird though is the fact that we couldn't find fish in the lake. No fish. Isn't that scary?
Anyway, after a demonstration of how to use the life-jacket, Ganapathi asked us to jump our asses in the lake, and we obliged. We swam for a while. A couple of them were scared to death. Floating in water is a weird feeling I tell you. And if you can't swim, it is worse. After some time, we jumped only to jump back in to ride the Coracles. Ladies and gentlemen, this bLogout has gifted the world its new Coracling champions. Give it up for Anita, Arnab, Venky, and yours truly. We beat everyone by a mile. We went around islands as if it were a merry-go-around. But nothing comes close to that moment when we stopped the Coracle in the middle of the lake, behind that island. The serenity was overwhelming and so pure that I stopped using the F word for a while. Ok, I was kidding, I never really stopped using the F word.
My arms were all sore from the rowing. Every muscle in my body was screaming. Ganapathi screamed at us to go for lunch. We went to the base, helped them move the food to this (yet) another tile-roofed house that served as a dining hall. I have never wolfed down the simple food, sambar and rice like I did that day. [...Contd]del.icio.us| Digg| Reddit| StumbleUpon| Technorati