Friday, March 17, 2006

Ooty Tour - Prologue

…Things won’t happen the way we want; rather it will take the other track, much more interesting.


30th October 2004. 05.00 hrs


As the Beautiful Garden city was sleeping in the frigid morning of the weekend, A KA04-A-5945 White Indica a/c with yellow numbering was racing along the Bangalore – Mysore road for its final destination; the ever-green, breath-taking Queen of the Hills, Ooty. Radio city 91 FM started refreshing the air. Inside it was seated four aspiring young professionals from God’s own country who were still adapting to the reality that their dream was finally coming true.

Things weren’t the same three days before…

Ooty Tour - Chapter 1

Chapter 1

October 2nd week

Anna Sandra Palaya, Bangalore

An always impatient Bastian threw an idea that at first seemed to be a time-pass, “Da, Randu divasam engottenkilum tour pokam”. Nobody responded at first and finally Ranjith backed him. Even I did, as I was also longing for a break from the tiresome and boring Office – Room – Keerthi - Surabhi routine and non-coinciding shifts of ours. Gijoy as usual, nodded and nodded. Things took a fast turn as we decided to give it a shot and everyone got a half chance during the last weekend of October. It will be holidays for me, Bastian and Gijoy will adjust the shift and Ranjith will somehow do something J (wait n see to make it happen). We planned for a Goa tour, hiring a car. Later on it was changed to Ooty considering the traveling time and distance. We began searching for a rent-a-car. We enquired and decided to progress in spite of the expense. But we could arrange only Santro petrol and we knew it’ll be expensive. Meanwhile we started planning a family trip with Mr. & Mrs. Sharath, Sreeram and Ratheesh. Even that was not coming alright and both I and Bastian were hopeless and started preparing for a setback, as we were the sole organizers because Gijoy and Ranjith were on evening and night shiftsJ. Added to this was the disk man getting damaged, which put a full stop to our Veer-Zaara mood.

…And the wind blew our direction, when on 27th October, I got some links from internet and finally strike gold with International Travel house offering Indica A/c diesel at a worthy 100 bucks per day and unlimited mileage. Wasting no time, I and Bastian went that evening and booked it for the weekend. Coming back, we discussed the different strategies for the trip. Finally we decided the Mysore – Coorg – Ooty route. The day following, Gijoy and Bastian made further enquiries, got the camera from Bastian’s friend and on 29th October 8’o clock, Bastian, Gijoy and Myself were on our way to take the car. Simply professional, I should say, was the attitude of the Travel House authorities. They just blocked 10K payment from my credit card and got themselves my driving license. They fueled the car to full tank and handed over to us at 22.00 hrs.

Bastian took the magic key; we went to Madiwala and fueled ourselves from Mas, caught Ranjith from Koramangala, took cash from Domlur and reached room by 22.30 hrs. Gijoy put his two-wheeler inside the room first. 1000 bucks per head was deposited with the Finance controller i.e. myself. Not even a penny will be spent from others for the whole trip. Putting the beats on, we went ahead with the travel arrangements. It was decided by our travel committee to take three pairs of T-Shirt and Jeans and one pair of semi-formals. We took jackets, towels, cassettes, perfumes, camera, this and that and finally the attraction of the whole trip, Panasonic Handicam. We were even discussing whether anybody will come back or if only one came back, how he will live in that roomJ. And the urge to pack things fast and prepare for the 3 dream days was ultimate.

Ooty Tour - Chapter 2

Chapter 2

October 30th. 03.00 hrs

Anna Sandra Palaya, Bangalore

I got up early and woke up Ranjith, the others still enjoying the sleep as they have already taken their bath the day before. We took the bath, woke up the two sleeping idiots and got ready by 04.15 am. Bastian placed his Wooden Holy Cross and the Rosary on the car’s front window. This was the guiding force for us during the entire ride. After some snaps of the Smart guys, the car started rolling around 30 min past 4’o clock. We went straight to Corporation circle, took the flyover to market and we hit the Mysore road in a flash. Cool music was oozing out of FM. Around 06.00 am, we felt a spark in our stomach and stopped in a teashop and had some tea & biscuits. Bastian took a close chance by overtaking a bus. Ranjith also drove for sometime and then we felt a good burning smell of elastomer and experienced some discomfort in riding. I just checked the back tire and it was punctured. There began our first commercial break. I started the video cam recording, one of the most natural videos of the tour and others started the Steppini – Jacky procedure. Only Gijoy and Ranjith could do some sort of trying, Bastian was a mere spectatorJ. In fact none of them succeeded until I found another good spanner. Then we together removed the burned tire and replaced that with the spare. I couldn’t help saying, that was our best video recording, truly natural. Then we soon found out a vulcanizing shop and got one good tube. We resumed our journey by taking the Bye-pass road to Ooty/Madikeri. It went through Hebbal industrial area, where Infosys is situated. We took some time to locate the route and halted for food at a Malayali mess known to me. We took Rice steam cake and peanut (Puttum KadalayumJ). We enquired about Coorg and Madikeri. Coming to know that it’s not our sort of place, all of us decided to go straight to Ooty. Soon we were on the road to Ooty with Gijoy holding the steering. The road was simply amazing, a joy for car drivers. We stopped at a place with banyan trees. We did a Snap and Video session by climbing the trees, hanging on the aerial shoots, sitting in the road and on the bonnet of the moving car. Ranjith took the drivers seat there after. Then we put the English cassette of Bastian, which contains foot-toppers viz. Coco jumbo, Steps, Michael Jackson. We suddenly had a strong urge to sip beer and enjoy. All of us were on a high mood. We paused at Golden bar and bought four beers, but unluckily didn’t get the apt food. We searched for quite long, but got only bread. We were fast reaching the border, Bandipur Sanctuary. The forest was nice, but we (un) luckily we couldn’t spot any animals other than cows. We took a steep short route to Ooty after Bandipur, through Mudumalai Sanctuary. When we entered Mudumalai sanctuary, Tamilnadu police officials stopped us. Ranjith who drove stepped out and went towards the office while one police man came to check. He inspected the water bottles even. We had covered the beer bottles and put the bread packets over it. We were beginning to say that we are carrying beer as it’ll be an issue if they find that. But then the idiot didn’t notice that at all and we left. Hahaha, we fooled the police, hurrayJ !!! We followed a couple in Honda City and it was easier to drive. The route was good, just for the ride. There were no great sceneries except dense forest. We were soon climbing the hill with utmost caution. The fog was increasing and we found it difficult. We stopped at an intermediate place. We had tea, radish and went for a small walk to a cut road and spent sometime enjoying the sceneries. Then we resumed.

Encircling the hairpin bend,

Slow and stylish up us went,

Fog and Mist and chilling wind,

Companying us till the end!!!

Around 1’o clock, we reached our destination. Driving past the tea plantations, through the mist filled roads, it was real enjoyment. And there came, the major turning point in the holidays, Indu Nivas. It was cottages under Hindustan Photo Films HPF. We thought it’ll prove costly. But to our amazement, it worked out real cheap, just 500 bucks. It would have been a great loss if we missed out that cottage. We didn’t think further and took the Cottage No. 5. Some horses were there in front of the cottage to welcome us. It was an awesome cottage and very big. There was a big living room containing big sofas, then two big bedrooms, kitchen, dining room and bathroom with geyser attached. After putting our luggage, we went to buy food along to accompany the Energy drinkJ. We got some real tasty food, Chicken Fry, they said. But anyhow it was not chicken; I hope its Dog meat, manL! I think it was an AlsatianJ. Anyhow we went back to cottage and started our first drinking session along with dog. Most of the beer bottles were shaken and so they frothed out. It was chilling cold and it was difficult even to go to restroom. And we took beer and slept for sometime. At 4’o clock, we went out for sight seeing. We went to Durga restaurant, which afterwards became our exclusive restaurant. The Dosa was delicious and not at alike the usual stuff in other restaurants. We had Dosa and went towards lake. The time was over and we went to Commercial road. Myself and Bastian bought jackets. We also had some Home-made chocolates which is a specialty in Ooty as the climate is best to preserve. Then we went to Blue Hills bar. The video shot there resembles an English film. Bastian and Gijoy took VSOP brandy while Ranjith and I took Director’s Special. It was not so good and we ate Chapatti, Noodles, Chilly chicken and Egg burji along with that. Our first bar session was disappointing and it started raining after that. It’s hectic to have a combination of Fog and RainL. We almost lost in the rain and were roaming around the town for another 10-20 min. We went here and there and it was a sort of adventurous trip. Finally Ranjith called up the cottage and asked for the way. Finally we somehow managed to reach the cottage. One security came and welded usL. Then we chatted for quite a long, mainly about girls (need not mention) and went to bed. We first thought of sleeping two per room but nobody was daring to sleep alone as we started ghost stories. We even couldn’t go to the other rooms for taking things. Finally Bastian, Gijoy and I went to one room and Ranjith told he’ll sleep in the next room. But within a minute he came back to ours and we slept discussing ghost stories, hoping we’ll see the daylight next day :).

Ooty Tour - Chapter 3

Chapter 3

October 31st 08.00 hrs


Ranjith, Bastian and I went for a morning walk and Gijoy slept some more. Before leaving, Gijoy took a video session of the whole house. Then at 09.00 am, we left the cottage, Give one film roll for washing and bought a new one. We went to Durga restaurant and ate as much as possible. Then we headed for the Famous Lake. We took two pedal-boats, Ranjith and Bastian on one and Gijoy and I on another. We enjoyed for 30 min and had some chocolates and then some snacks from a store in the midst of the lake. We proceeded for Dashing cars, similar to Fantasy Park. It was a good show. We took some snaps in front of the Toy train and a mini garden. The next entertainment was one of the worthless ones, Horse ride. We feared for a moment even. For 200 bucks, they went for some distance and that too not that entertaining. After that, we wanted a good ride in our car. We headed for Avalanche. We saw the Good Shepherd International School. It’s really big and beautiful. While we were shooting in another splendid locale, some of the local fellows were staring and we had to clear the place soon. We reached Emerald, a village and came to know that there’s nothing much in Avalanche. So we went to Canada dam, pronounced as Kannada dam by villagersJ. It was amazing and we soon found a lake in the valley of a hill. It was too good and resembled Thekkady Lake. We even saw some black monkeys, hanging through the trees. We saw the dam which was a little away. Then we went back and had our lunch from, no need to ask, Hamara Durga. Then we went and fueled our car. After some time, we were on our way to Dodabetta, the highest point in Ooty, 2623m. The road to that was amazing, surrounded by forest. We couldn’t enjoy the height as it was almost filled with fog. We then enjoyed some chocobars, radishes and boiled corns. We were going down then and stopped at an intermediate point for video session. On the way down, we halted at a Tea shop and tasted chocolate, masala and cardamom tea. Tea is the favorite of Ooty as Coconut is to Kerala. We also bought some eucalyptus oil. We then headed towards the One and Only Government Botanical Garden, the Royal studio of South India. It is a pick of a place, I bet. But we reached there evening and fog was there. So the environment was not that clear. We enjoyed the beauty and hung on there for quite sometime. After that, we did some shopping outside. We bought small apples and custard apples. We then started exploring the commercial road searching for Dhoom’s cassette. In Vain!!! Bastian bought one cool cap and was the attraction for the coming day. Then we found out the Bar of our Journey, Edassery bar. It was handled by Malayali. Ranjith had BP Gold, Gijoy and Bastian had VSOP and I had RC Challenge. We were served with delicious Chilly Beef, Beef fry and Chicken Manjurian. We really enjoyed except Gijoy skipping initially for his telephone session. We sledged Pandi and then returned to our cottage. This time we reached fast. We collected our photos on the way. Then as usual the chatting session began. Bastian and Gijoy have a little argument about the close chance of Bastian’s ride. It reached no where. Security came again welding a cigar and money. Then we checked our video cam recording. We’re thrilled by that and decided to improve the next time. We went to bed followed by a blanket catching session which took quite sometime. Ranjith told the next day that he fell from the cot in night.

Ooty Tour - Chapter 4

Chapter 4

November 1st 07.00 hrs


Kerala Piravi (Also Karnataka and Andhra birthdays)

We woke up a little early and started the morning walk, this time all together. We came back and informed the cottage authorities that we’ll be vacating it morning. Then we got ready and left our golden cottage by 09.00 hrs after taking some snaps. We went to Durga and had a heavy breakfast, this time with more variety. We took one snap and left. From there, we went to the Centenary Rose Garden. As it was not the season, the roses were few. We took a snap near one of the poetic engravings. We headed to another exotic locale, Coonoor. The road was fully fog-filled and we went through Wellington, where one military regiment is situated. We reached Coonoor and went to Sim’s park. There was nothing worth seeing and after that, we started for the most interesting spot of our tour, Lamb’s rock. The way was decorated with tea plantation and small waterfalls on one side and mist-filled valley on the other side. We stopped at one point and explored a small waterfall. It was the most fun-filled extravaganza of the trip. We spend much time there by climbing up the falls and taking the video. Then we went to the Lamb’s rock and returned to Ooty. We reached Ooty afternoon and had our last food at Durga. We fueled the car and around 13.45 hrs, we were leaving Ooty exactly after 48 hrs we arrived there. On the way, we took video of the Indu Nivas. This time, we took the Gudalur route. It was simply awesome. Dense forests, tea plantations, valleys and no dangerous bends, it was cool. The only concern is double time, but its worth. We saw a cinema shooting site, a green hill. It was ultimate. Ranjith and Bastian even rolled down the hill. We spend some time there and were on our way down. Suddenly a call came from my stomach, not of hunger. It was an exit sign and it became uncontrollable with time. We halted at some point and I took one water bottle and soap and ran into the forest. Oh my goodness! What an experience it was! Dense forest, Sounds from road and the vehicles echoing inside forest, sounds of nature; Boy, I felt like heaven! It resembled me of Mammooty’s Manasa Maine varoo from YathraJ! Things finished fast and I went back and they were busy shooting. Bastian drove next and we stopped on the way for tea, banana and biscuit. We resumed our journey and entered Mudumalai and Bandipur sanctuaries via Gudalur. Finally, we were lucky. We saw peacocks, herd of deer and tamed elephants. We saw people taking elephant ride. In fact we saw more deer on the way. Bastian was not interested in driving slow (as always) as he longed for a leopard or a tiger to interfereJ. We were soon on the Mysore road. I also drove for some min soon returned the keyL. Around 7pm, we reached Mysore, went to my earlier room to take bed, pillows and hangers. After tea, we started rolling and were soon on the main road to Bangalore. We took dinner on the way and reached Bangalore at 22.30 hrs. The sole enjoyment was Bastian’s rash driveL and Ranjith calling his superior and lying to compensate the leavesJ. We went to Travel house. Their professionalism is again worth mentioning as they didn’t check the vehicle at all. After the payment, they send a driver to drop us. We fueled the car to full tank on the way and reached room by around 11pm. Thus our wonderful odyssey came to an end. Anyway cheers to all three drivers who drove excellently and without taking riskJ.

Yeh Dil Mange More!!!

Ooty Tour - Epilogue


2nd November 2004 06.00hrs

Hewlett Packard, Electronics city

A totally exhausted guy in deep sleep was awakened by his colleagues from the dormitory. He went there at 4am and eventually went to bedJ, relishing the sweet memories of the journey.


Bastian Peter

Ranjith P.B

Gijoy Mathew

Mukesh G (Narrator)


International Travel House Ltd, Richmond Road, Bangalore

Indu Nivas, Hindustan Photo Films Manufacturing Company Ltd, Indu Nagar, Ooty

Durga Vegetarian restaurant, Ooty

Blue Hills Bar, Ooty

Edassery Bar, Ooty