Yercaud – More than a weekend getaway

You will be surprised to what length Google Maps can go to ensure you spend as little on fuel as possible! For the most part of our drive to Yercaud (a small hill station near Salem, Tamil Nadu, India) we paid exorbitant money as Toll fees. The last part of the drive was climbing up the hill and it is here Google took the matter into its own hands. To call the road narrow would be an understatement. We encountered only two oncoming cars and multiple two-wheelers on the route to the top of the hill. One hairpin turn almost gave me a heart attack! It felt like adventure sport the kind you get to see on AXN. My car a conventional sedan from Maruti (Dzire) was up for all the challenges the terrain was throwing at it. Well, what options did it have! Apparently, there were but Google wanted to make the road trip memorable. We drove through obsolete roads which were home to tainted and burnt houses like the one below.

IMG_20180217_155627

By we I mean my better half (definitely better) and yours truly.

There was no sign of life. It was both scary and exciting. We ventured further and found ourselves driving through patchy roads and areas which you wouldn’t call roads by any stretch of the imagination. At this point, we questioned the intention of Google Maps but having no other navigators around we put our faith in the artificial voice and pressed on the accelerator. To our surprise, we reached our destination, the sparsely populated hotel, without any hassles. The taxing 360 Kilometres drive and the warmth of a clean welcoming room put an end to the adventurous day.

IMG_20180217_181138

A typical hill station in India has quirky names for the high rise viewpoints, the main market selling obscure stuff and a lake that has boating as its main attraction. Yercaud is no different. The only place it lacks is a good market where you can traverse as a tourist and bargain like a local. If you are like me you will enjoy going to a tourist place when it is “off-season”. There is no crowd hobbling with you for space and the street vendors don’t charge an obscene amount for basic artefacts. At viewpoints, restaurants and the market, we were the only people posing as tourists.

PANO_20180219_174656

IMG_20180219_173753

Both the photos above were taken at a point called “Pagoda Point”. A quirky name which doesn’t necessarily mean anything but is definitely catchy. We were among seven people at the point including a vendor who was trying to sell “American Corn” and fruits. Another aspect I have been trying to get my head around is why do they set up stalls where we have to shoot balloons with the air rifle? These stalls are mostly deserted barring a few stubborn children who are able to convince their parents to shoot the balloons. This definitely is more exciting for them than experiencing the nature.

Google, a rather sticky companion, suggested 13 different things to do at Yercaud. One of the places to go to was a “must-visit” waterfalls. Blindly following the suggestion we headed to the place and were warned by the locals of the 250 steep steps it would take to experience the waterfalls and come back! My better half had a hunch that the place wouldn’t be worth it but I thought otherwise.

IMG_20180218_153524

The daunting steps!

We took the plunge and decided to test our luck. Struggling with our not-so-fit bodies we finally reached the place of the waterfalls. It turned out to be a massive disappointment. The water was scarce and the place was not worth all the effort.

IMG_20180218_155442

The “must-visit” waterfalls.

The journey back to the ground zero from the waterfalls point went as you would expect. I was repeatedly told that I was wrong and I should have listened to my better half’s hunch. To make the situation better I suggested every person who was coming from the opposite direction that the effort to get to the waterfalls is not worth it. I saved few men from the inevitable. I took one for the team!

A hill station that can help you escape Chennai’s heat, make you experience cold weather in summer and has a sense of humour is totally worth your time and money.

IMG_20180220_170350

Yercaud’s sense of humour.

If you are planning a trip such as the one above Google is here to help! Trust it blindly. Conditions apply.

Advertisements

Meeting Arjun Reddy’s Grandmother

Photo credit: Greatandhra. Com

I had always considered myself unlucky when it comes to meeting stars or celebrities at the airports or inside the flights. My friend who invariably meets someone every time she travels makes it look so easy. This for me wasn’t a goal but I wouldn’t complain if it happens to me.

I was traveling to Lucknow from Chennai on November 4, 2017. I was flying Indigo 6E 847, apparently the best airlines India has to offer.

Just like anyone else I sat near the gate waiting for the boarding to start. I was consciously making an attempt to not use my mobile phone. Why you ask? Let’s just say I don’t like that we have become slaves to our phones. More on that later. Of the hundreds of people sitting in the waiting area only handful were actually mindful of their surroundings. Most of them had a screen to stare into or were listening to music. Nothing wrong in doing either.

The moment they announced the boarding people flocked together and tried their best to beat everybody else to the line. After much effort I got onto the plane. The charismatic and inhumane air hostess welcomed me with a authentic fake smile which obviously dint work for me. I know better. While I was making my way through the aisle, expecting people to behave civilized and make way for others, I saw a familiar face.

An old lady trying to get comfortable in her seat. I couldn’t remember where had I seen her before. By the time I got to my seat at the backend of the plane i realized she might be the actor who played the role of the charming grandmother in the movie Arjun Reddy. Since I wasn’t sure if it was her and also did not know anything about the actor I dint do anything. The only thing I had read about her was a two line reference to her acting career in one of the movie reviews. Hence without giving it too much thought, I got comfortable in my seat and forgot about her.

Four hours later the plane landed in Lucknow. The moment the seat belt sign was turned off people got up in a jiffy, unloaded their bags from overhead cabin space and then waited in a line smelling each other’s odor. I can’t understand why people do that. By saving those 2 minutes how are they making their lives better? More on that later.

I waited for the aisle to get vacant. There were handful of people struggling with their luggage. I walked to the front end of the plane and to my surprise found the old lady standing near her seat. I couldn’t resist and asked her “Aren’t you the actor who played the role of the grandmother in Arjun Reddy”?

She said yes and I could sense a little pride in her voice. Not knowing what exactly to do in such a situation I continued to talk with her as I would talk to any stranger. I accompanied her on her way to the baggage carousels. She was in a wheelchair and an attendant was helping her drive the chair. The next 15 to 20 minutes of my life were enriching to say the least.

We quickly began to converse in Kannada and she told me about her experience of working in movies in different languages. I still did not know her name or anything else about her. She had apparently won an award in Karnataka and was telling me gleefully about the message she delivered while accepting the award. She took pride in saying that she is still earning at 78. She expected people to do their duties and told me repeatedly to allow people to do their duties. I was being helpful and trying to find a trolley for her but she insisted on the attendant to do it. We are paying him and he should earn his money was the reply I got form her. She did not budge in saying that people like me should not try to be extra nice and do other people’s jobs.

She was charming and energetic. Her zeal to talk about her life was exciting to see and it was clear to me that she must have been a strong woman in her hey days. I accompanied her till the exit gate where her family was waiting to receive her. Throughout the conversation I had umpteen number of opportunities to ask for a photo but I refrained. I was fighting the urge to take tbe selfie. The purity of the moment gets muddled when you bring in the moment capture device.

She asked me where I worked and stayed in Chennai. When I told her about the area I stay in, she was surprised and said we stay close by. I don’t remember if she said come over for a visit but even if she didn’t it doesn’t matter.

She introduced me to her family and was checking with them if they could drop me to a nearby place. I said my goodbyes to her and truly felt good for meeting her.

I still did not know her name. I called up a friend from office and narrated the incident to him and he told me that she is Kanchana.