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Friday, 23 January 2015

Kerala Journals

DAY 1
          My college industrial visit to Kerala began from 12th January 2015. In the past three years of my senior college life, this was my first trip. So, needless to say, I was thrilled and excited beyond words. All the students and teachers gathered at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus by 4 pm. Among all, Priyanka and Vidhi were my best friends. I was looking forward to befriending our mutual friends; Husaina, Mayuri, Pooja, Shweta and Winny as I had always adored their group. We boarded the train by 5, all set for an exhilarating tour to God's own country. It was almost a 24-hour train journey. Given the kind of person I am, it was quite hard trying to fit in but I hope I didn't bore the people around me. The train travelling was all about songs, food, selfies and gossip. Because I only know songs of a few artists and gossip of just those artists, I couldn't add much to their conversations.


DAY 2
          The next day, we all were up by 8.30 am. We had breakfast. After some time, we had snacks, then beverages. Frankly, we were eating all the time. After a while, train travelling was starting to get tedious. We all were relieved when the train reached Ernakulam Town. Train was followed by bus. Another two and a half hours later we reached Aashirwad Hotel. It was wonderful. My room mates were Priyanka, Vidhi and Mayuri. Everyone freshened up and had dinner. After dinner, we roamed around the hotel. There was a swimming pool and spa rooms. After some quick photos and the short detour, we went in our respective rooms. We all talked to our parents and I have to admit I was home sick. After all it was my first trip on my own. I was delighted for this trip and on the other hand I also missed home. These mixed feelings stayed till the next day when I started enjoying in real sense. Soon it was 14th January which was Mayuri's birthday!


DAY 3
          We room mates were lucky enough to wish Mayuri first. And then started the fun. Literally the entire batch was at our door wishing the birthday girl. The close friends went to the adjacent room. There was music, singing and dancing. Mayuri cut the delicious home-made cake which Shweta had got. Then she opened the gifts. Among the cheer of Mayuri's birthday, the music and all the happiness, I thought I did belong there, with them.
         We got up by 6.30 am, packed, put on our formal attire, had breakfast, checked out and headed to our first industrial visit to the coir factory. We reached by 10.15 am and the visit was over by 11 am. We were shown the process right from the raw material to the finished product. We saw the rollers and the way they make mattresses, doormats etc. We wrapped up by clicking a picture of our batch.
         Next was the much awaited backwater ride. It was a two hour ride which we enjoyed from 12 to 2 pm. We witnessed the beauty of Kerala at that time. I couldn't stop looking at the magnificent view of the coconut trees, the waves and the sun. I just sat in a corner, looking at the coastline, taking in that landscape and keeping it in my memory forever. I had a thought of living there alone in a small houseboat, reading a book, drinking tea, exploring the beauty of the place and just staying there. But dreams are too good to be real and soon we were on our way to Munnar. Leaving at 2.30 pm, we reached six and a half hours later. I for one, enjoyed the bus ride as I listened to music and sitting in the window seat, enjoyed the nature as well. After dark, our bus turned into a moving DJ club. There was loud music and lights. People were dancing and I enjoyed watching them enjoy. We reached the hotel Blu Haze at 9 pm. It was an amazing hotel and I instantly loved it.


Kerala Backwaters.


DAY 4
          This was the most adventurous day of all. I was in a weird state of mind as there were just two days left and also happy that I would be home soon. We reached the Kanan Devi Hills Plantation by 10.30 am. Tea factory was our second and last industrial visit. We were given information about the history of tea plantation, various types of tea and also how to make tea. The instructor also guided us through the process of how the hand-picked tea leaves are made into tea powder. After this, everyone bought tea, coffee and other products from their outlet. We saw the tea museum next which basically showcased the history of Munnar's tea gardens. After the visit, by 12.15 pm, we left for Mattupetty dam. We first halted by the lake. It was a 15-minute walk from where we left our bus. Given the human tendency, everyone started shopping at the first sight of shops. Soon we reached the point and it was amazing. The view was stunning. Sadly, we live in an era where people are busy clicking pictures in ten poses rather than just giving peace to the eyes and letting them enjoy the scenery which is leaps and bounds different than the daily city life. Everyone got busy in selfies and group photos and I stood there pondering over the nature's beauty for quite a small amount of time. Soon, we walked over the dam and the view was breath taking. Afterwards, we halted for a photography session for about 10 minutes. Finally, we reached the hotel by 4.30 pm.
         We got some time to rest but the rest held no meaning as everyone were way too excited for DJ night and campfire. My three room mates wore their pretty outfits and put on make up and all sorts of stuff of which I have zero knowledge. The four of us and our next room friends hit the DJ floor by 8. All the girls looked beautiful and the guys smart. Me, Priyanka and Winny sat most of the time, being the non-dancers. Camp fire was set and the music got louder and I just enjoyed the view and felt happy to have gone for the trip. The last song that the DJ played was 'College Days'. Everyone embraced their groups, danced together, hugged each other, laughed together and cried together. Even I got emotional. My college life, these friends and so many memories went through my mind. The first time we hanged out, our exam time seriousness, our lecture time craziness, our non sense rants and the deepest worries and secrets that we shared. Just us, collegemates.


The girl gang by Mattupetty lake.

DAY 5
          On 16th we were to leave for Cochin. Having left at 9.45 am, we halted at the spice garden at 10.30 am. This also seemed like an industrial visit, just greener. We were shown a variety of trees that are cultivated there. We saw clove, costus, pepper, cocoa, cardamom, kerala chilies, nilambari, pineapples, coffee, a different kind of banana tree and all spices trees. It was an entire tour of the place. After getting to know about the medicinal qualities, everyone bought a lot of products from their outlet. Finally, we left at 12.15 pm to reach Cochin by 4 pm. Our hotel's name was 'The Dunes' and it was spectacular. We rested for some time and then left for Cochin's marine drive by 6.30 pm. That place was remarkable. It resembled a lot like Mumbai's marine drive and so we felt near to home. We reached just before sunset which allowed us to watch the view prior to sunset and after it too. I didn't felt like leaving from that calm and peaceful place.
         It was our last night in Kerala and we decided to make it a great one. By that time, I had known my new friends pretty much and even I wanted to be apart of that girls night party. Vidhi had fever since a day. We couldn't see her that way as she is the star of our group. She had seen a doctor and taken medicines. Thanks to that, she felt better and could enjoy with us. The boys had successfully sneaked in burgers for us. Eating a burger after the daily hotel food felt like some sort of a gift. Our night began with ghost stories. Pooja told us some of the real-life ghost stories. I wasn't scared but her story telling skills are commendable. Shweta's stories were also scary. Some had goosebumps as well. Soon other girls also joined us and the talks switched to girly chit chats. I slept at 3 am, satisfied that I didn't quit earlier even though I was bored.


By the Cochin drive.


DAY 6 and 7
          It was 17th January and time to leave for Mumbai. Some students went shopping while the rest of us, the lazy lot, slept in our cozy beds. All of us bought Kerala's famous chips on our way to the station. We left for Mumbai by 2.15. This journey was the longest one I have ever felt. It may be because the train was 7 hours late and the longing to be home had reached an intolerable point. On this return journey, our friend, Utsav, spent the entire time with us which was a blessing. Without his jokes, the journey would have been unbearable, to say the least. He had been aloof throughout the trip and we all were relieved to have him enjoying along with us. Later on, he composed a mind blowing shayri; 'Dastaan-E-Kerala' which touched me deeply. Somehow, we all survived the journey by talking, playing, singing and sleeping. The next day I was home by 10.30 pm.
          I had been to Kerala before. I liked it then and I liked it now. If you ask my favourite place, then I'd say Munnar. For me, Kerala are those endless mountains of tea gardens. It might be because of its uniqueness. There's no such beauty in them as compared to the backwaters or the lake but still they are my favourite. Those plantations are stable throughout the area. They are Kerala's constant since decades. They aren't extraordinary but they are their own kind of special. I like that.
That goes for Kerala and now about the people anticipating this post. Their group would lose its strength without Shweta; humour without Winny; crazy cuteness without Mayuri, bubbly cheeriness without Pooja; innocence without Husaina, calmness without Vidhi and newness without Priyanka. I may not say much but believe me when I say that it was a great time with you all. I had never expected this trip to be an amazing one because I didn't have a huge group of friends. But now I can say this that I went with two friends and came back with more friends than I can count on my fingers.

In my memory, forever.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Travel

          In my opinion, there are two types of people; people who love to travel and people who pretend they don't. There is nothing about it that can make people not want to do it. For me, travelling can be anything between a 30 minutes walk to a 2 day journey to some place. Travelling is something that involves a lot of other interesting things. For example, if it is a 30 minutes walk, then you can listen to music. If it is a 2 day train journey, then you can read a book or knit a sweater. So, travelling is a hobby comprising of many other hobbies.
          Until a few years back, travelling was not something that I looked forward to. It was only a once in a year break from everything. But after I went on the Kashmir tour last year, I was stunned and mesmerized by the whole concept of travel. It was not just a break, it became something much more. It held meaning. Kashmir was by far the most breathtakingly stunning and an aesthetic place I had been. I loved it. Since then, I had a clearer visualization and all of a sudden I wanted to travel the whole world. Every place has its own story and I wanted to travel there, observe people, get to know their stories, absorb the extravagant beauty of that place, make countless memories and then just keep on travelling to the next world awaiting me.
          Every bit of travelling is exciting and adventurous. It starts with packing all the best clothes along with the matching accessories and then ticking off items from the 'Things to shop and pack' list. The transport till the destination is not less fun. Be it a bus, train, airplane or a ship; it is always fun. If you have company then twice the fun, I would say. Once you reach the destination, give it a few minutes unless you are not already in love with it. The thrill of the trip just goes on increasing at such times. Then there is the sight seeing, food and of course, shopping. Sight seeing is everybody's favorite and I am not an exception. The natural places have such amazing attractiveness about them. The valleys, snow-clad mountains, museums, gardens and historical places are all worth a watch. Then the food. It is just mandatory to taste the local food. Not only does it give you a variety but it also tells you about the local people. Then there's always a day kept reserve for shopping. We buy everything from durable food products to the local specialties. And then a few souvenirs for us, friends and family. It just goes on and on.
          Maximum of us travel just as tourists which is the acceptable thing. But in my case, I want to stay at a place for a month or so and actually live their life. I don't just want to go sight seeing but I want to know beyond that. I want to see places and people that are not covered in the stipulated tour. I want to explore the place in real sense and make some cherishable memories. Is it not what brings color to your life?



Thursday, 1 January 2015

2015

          2015. The new year begins today. New 12 months. New 365 days. Days, months and years pass by so fast. Every new year begins with the same passion and thrill of how our lives will unfurl.

          We hear people saying 'New Year, New Beginning' or 'New hopes, new challenges and new life'. The bigger question is 'Is it really a new life?' Just because December changes to January, does our lives also change? In fact, it is only a new year with our same old lives. It is good to be so optimistic in favor of a new life but there are expressions higher than optimism and pessimism. It is realism. Realism is considering the new year as a challenge. Setting up resolutions and staying true to them for an entire year. That is how it becomes a new life, with whole hearted perseverance towards becoming a better person. It is not a one day thing. It is a one-year process.

          So today as I think forward, I have new year resolutions and a set target. I'm going to work through it. Even if it will be a bumpy ride, I know the end will be worth it. Here's to the new year, 2015! Let's make it a great year filled with happiness, prosperity and luck. I wish you great achievements, strong thinking and a fantastic year. Let's make this year count.



Happy New Year! 


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