Footloose. Wanderlust. Movement. Oor-valam. Exploration.
Like someone said, when asked why climb the mountain, -"Because It Is There. " So, see the world because it is there.
Like the vedantins are fond of saying, without the Beholder, there is no Jagat .
I cannot remember a time when i wasn't on "Trips". Off we went in Father's car, knowing not where to and caring not about the whens and hows.
It was a refreshing way to "discover" places . To see with uneducated eyes is a great boon. When you dont know what to expect, even the mundane seems wonderful. Its like developing baby-eyes again.
This innocent sense of wonder is missing today, because of the plans we make, the advance bookings we are forced to do, the tips of travel we gather from the internet before embarking......for gods sake, even the bathroom faucet which i am going to use tonight at my destination site is familiar, already seen in the i-brochure !
Such advance preparation may make a trip smooth and successful but it also has its drawbacks - often, the real thing doesn't measure up to the glossy print....or worse, there is some absolutely enchanting nook somewhere out there that the travel-planners ignored and so, we never get to see.
I am not complaining. If Father's leisurely voyages of exploration and discovery had its incalculable charm , the later , planned tours too have been useful, for they have afforded me the opportunity of seeing much, much more than i ever imagined i would. I have tried to retain, to this day, a vestige of the curiosity and eye for the unusual that fired those trips of yore. And i like to psyche myself into believing that i am the discoverer of every place i visit, one million travel brochures notwithstanding.
One of the earliest short-trips i remember is to a place called Chunchankatte. Appa's friend one Mr.Lingaiah had tagged along. He was to be the guide showing the way to " a waterfall, where children can bathe". Say that in colloquial kannada and you will get the drift of his opinion of the place. A rural backyard with an adequate supply of water for bathing. Ahem ! So said the dear Mr. Lingaiah.
But we arrived in ...........A sylvan wonderland ! I still remember the shock of amazement i felt at the sight of the gushing torrents of the brilliantly sparkling cascade, roaring and tumbling riotously along a series of rocky legdes, spaying a fine rainbow-carrying mist over the bordering rocks. There were a few people making merry in the shallow troughs under the smaller cascades.
We were at a loss as to which spot we should choose for our own " bathing ". This one looked calmer, that one seemed less dangerous, over there the volume of water was majestic,perhaps this basin in the rocks would be just fine...........finally i think we tried out all spots, frolicked everywhere. We collected coloured pebbles that shone like gems under water. ( sadly, once dry, they looked drab)
We lost sense of time....and only when the bells of the nearby temple pealed to announce mid-day siesta for The Lord, did we realise it was highnoon, with a blazing sun beating down on our heads and turning out wrinkled, water-logged skin a deeper shade of brown.
When Mother started spreading the sheets under a nearby tree,for having lunch with a grand view of the Falls, Mr. Lingaiah energetically stopped her saying he knew a better place for the picnic party. So loading into the car, we cruised to a place behind the temple wondering what could be more beautiful than the Falls.
"Here ! Here !" Said Mr. Lingaiah and we all got down to face an old square little building, painted with the regulation municipal cream and green wash. The Inspection Bunglow. It was locked. Mr. Lingaiah gleefully pointed to the clean swept red oxide flooring of the spacious open verandah and added triumphantly : " Look there's also a tap under the neem tree for washing hands !"
A tap ! We left the white water rapids for a tap! Ok, no problem. We settled on the verandah, had a wonderful lunch , washed hands under the precious tap and lay down on the floor, as the whizzing breeze from the neem tree lulled us into a slumber. We hadn't realised how hungry or tired we had been after all that splashing under the cataract.
An afternoon session in the falls was ruled out because an overcast sky indicated a heavy evening downpour and we had to get home before the monsoon rain cut us off. And if had to keep time, we had to keep off the water ! Such Thanni-Pisasus we were.
Savouring the fragrant Tea and Coffee from Brass brewing-filters in a shack near the temple, we noticed that there were two tent cinemas erected close to each other, just at the end of the village bazar . Show was on. On an impulse we took tickets for " Malai Kallan" ( a grainy B&W print of an old MGR Movie). The badly cut movie did not make much sense but we enjoyed the antics of the floor-class audience who, unmindful of the alien language, were having a blast , lolling on the cool sand.
Close to our row of folding metal chairs was the flap of the tent which,whenever a strong wind blew it open, revealed the screen of the adjoining tent which was showing a gaudy eastman colour hindi movie. When the songs came on, the volume was raised so that sometimes there was royal audio clash of hindi and tamil. And the whilstles from the floor.
We did not wait to see the denouement of the MGR epic but drove back in great speed to avoid the rains.
We thanked Mr. Lingaiah for the excellent trip....and his thoughtfulness in finding us a tap. Bless his soul.