Have you heard the one about the best laid plans of mice and men? Yeah! That one. Well, it happened to me this Sunday. Last week had been a hectic one for me work wise and all I had been looking forward to on Sunday was to sleep long and sleep late and I had left strict instructions with my mother not to wake me up till ten in the morning on Sunday as I intended to sleep in till breakfast. My friends from Kilpauk (those who I call my “area” friends) had called me up on Saturday night proposing a road trip to Konai falls. But I had just returned from a food walk covering the entire Mint Street and naturally, I wasn’t too anxious to go on another trip again the very next day. Besides I knew from past experience how these trips went. One day with MadMax Manoj and the gang and I would need a week to recover from the aftereffects. These guys never did anything in half measures, when it came to enjoying, they enjoyed full time. So I was reasonably sure when I went to sleep that I had made the right decision in turning down the trip. I didn’t realize that Saturday night, how wrong I was.
So, imagine my surprise, when my mom shook me awake at around 7 in the morning on Sunday and tells me “Manoj is here waiting for you in the hall”. Is that the kind of shock you give to someone who is half awake? Barely had my mom finished her words when the Madmax himself waltzed into my room to convince me to go on the trip. Well, you have to say this about Manoj, he can be very convincing when he wants to be. So I got up, got dressed and in half an hour was packed and ready to go. That packed stuff? An extra pair of boxer shorts and my passport, for when you got out with Manoj you can never be sure where you will end up before returning. Carrying a passport helps in emergencies; to cross back national borders you might end up the wrong side of. He organizes that kind of get-togethers, the kind which will bleach the hairs of any fainthearted.
Once in the car, after meeting and greeting the old gang, Prakash, Bala and Arun, we decided to let Manoj do the driving, because that’s the only way to irritate bala, who thinks he is the best driver of us all. Having someone else drive, drives Bala nuts. And the trip was off to a fine start. We took the old Tirupati high road route past Vilivakkam, Tiruvalur, Sulurpet and Tada to head towards Konai falls. It was drizzling outside and we hoped that it was a local thing, climbing up those hill paths, up the slippery slopes, after the rains would be pretty dicey. Meanwhile, the curse of modern technology caught up with us and everyone started checking their mobile phones for mails and chats and updates. Prakash it was, who first discovered that the Sunday was supposed to be “National topless Day” and immediately the crazy dude suggested we all take off our shirts to show solidarity and go on in just the under vests. I begged, literally begged them to postpone this decision, till at least we crossed the city limits, for once on the highway no one would mind whatever these shameless guys did. I didn’t want to be caught by the traffic police in a car full of half-naked crazy guys. Beside these dudes were all long past their youth, they were now middle aged men, with paunches and not a pretty sight topless.
Meanwhile Bala was having a hot and bothersome fight with his ex. He had spent a long time staring over into my mobile phone while I had replied to a few FB notifications. So in revenge I happened to peek, accidentally, over into his chat messaging with his ex-girlfriend. And this is what I saw (true story): “you don’t intimate me anymore” Bala was sending. I couldn’t help falling and rolling over in laughter. I tweeted to him (for better effect than saying it out loud)- “Yeah dude. She doesn’t Intimate you. That’s why she is your ex. But she sure as hell, Intimidates you- making you commit spelling mistakes even when you chat.” He turned and frowned at me and then shut off his mobile for the rest of the journey.
We finally reached the Tada hills around two and a half hours later (stopped for breakfast along the way) and then to our surprise found some new improvements. The way unto the falls had steps constructed unlike the last time we had been there. The old path, which ran straight unto the top of the hill, still ran beside the steps, which were built only up to the falls. So we climbed up the steps to the falls. Halfway up, we saw a group of locals standing around in the path and pointing to something. When we stopped to look too, we saw two figures hurrying on up the steep hill slope, way past the falls and they seemed to be heading for the top of the peak. It was still drizzling a little, so we couldn’t make them out clearly, but one of them seemed to be a little way in the front, while the other was rushing behind as if to catch up. When we asked the people there they said that the one in the front was someone who had experienced a love failure and was now rushing up to the peak to commit suicide, while the second one was his friend hurrying behind to stop him. Seriously, do people nowadays commit suicide for love failures? I had thought that kind of true love had long disappeared. This news kind of sobered our party mood and we went up the rest of the way to the falls, debating the pros and cons of love failure.
Well anyway, when we reached the falls and stripped, the mood lifted again and we spent a glorious two hours bathing and playing under the falls, which was thankfully not much crowded, despite being a Sunday because it was raining?. We left reluctantly after having had a fun get-together after such a long time. And once we got down to the foot of the hill, we stopped to have a tender coconut. The coconut seller told us that it was customary for people who bathed at the falls to visit the local Devi Temple. So, we decided to follow local customs and went on to the temple situated just behind the falls. Just before the entrance to the temple we saw the ground was full of puddles of red Sindoor water (Kumkum as it is known locally) which is commonly given as an offering to any Goddess (Amman) temple in South India. It was only when we entered the temple and glanced around to see a severed goats head staring at us and people doing pooja with the offering, that we realized that what we took for Sindoor-Water was actually blood from the goat sacrifice. And I thought such customs had been long wiped out in our temples.
After hurriedly worshipping there, we took the road back to madras, as we were all extremely hungry by then and wanted to find some good hotel to have lunch. We finally found one near Periapalyam and after lunch, Bala got his chance to drive at last. He drove us back to Chennai and dropped me off at home. Just as we split up, we promised each other that we should do this more often, seeing how much we enjoyed this and all, but you know what? These kinds of road trips never happen with much planning. As Manoj said, the best trips are the spontaneous ones. He can say that authoritatively- because he never stays in one company for long unlike the rest of us- he is too spontaneous even in going to work.
(P.S. I have left out a lot of the interesting conversational bits and a few truly wacky stunts the guys pulled during the trip, because this blog is intended for general public viewing. And that’s why I haven’t put any photos too, for who wants to see paunchy, middle- aged dudes, bathing topless? Until my friends develop bodies like Hrithik Roshan, I am not putting their photos on my blog)