Watch on you tube the photos of Bowl Boat Ecotourism in Adavi near Konni, Pathanamthitta, Kerala
Click the link below
Watch on you tube the photos of Bowl Boat Ecotourism in Adavi near Konni, Pathanamthitta, Kerala
Click the link below
A paid holiday, the thrill of a lifetime, heaven on earth, no phrase could wholly explain the luxurious life in Lakshadweep. I have been there thrice. Thanks to Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences. The first time I traveled as a visitor and the next two times I went to work there.
Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences in Cochin was having a contract with Govt of India in a Public Private Partnership mode to manpower Rajiv Gandhi Specialty Hospital in Agatti, Lakshadweep.
Although kavaratti was the capital, Agatti was more or less the commercial capital as it had the aerodrome. My MBBS classmate Dr.Midilaj is a native of Agatti. The partnership of AIMS started in 2011 and AIMS had recruited Specialists as well as casualty doctors and paramedical staff to Agatti hospital.
In 2011 I travelled with Dr. Renjit Kumar, Dr. Ranjith.T.C and Dr. Muhammed Niaz. Dr. Sreejith was the Orthopaedic consultant there and Dr. Alagu who was the ortho pg worked as a casualty doctor. We stayed there for 4 days. During the first visit, we met Dr. Abdul Rahman who was a localite and an Ayurvedic doctor who studied in Ayurveda college , Trivandrum. A thick friendship had developed between us and its continuing strong by God’s grace.
Though we saw much less when compared to subsequent visits, the excitement of a first timer could not be replaced. Abdul Sir took us to all corners of the island including restaurant at Northern beach where we had our first bath in those pristine waters, Eastern and the western jetty, the south Kalpitti island along the airstrip. We we lucky to meet Olive Ridley Turtle while having coconut and jaggery party at the eastern beach side in front of Ummer Ikka’s House.We had a ride in a glass boat in the western lagoon and also some reef walking in the western side of airport region. We were amazed to see the various kinds of fishes and sea creatures like Corals, Sea Urchins, Clams, Crabs, Sea Cucumbers and many exotic birds. It was the first time we tasted Meera (coconut inflorescence). It was so refreshingly tasty. We were introduced To KD ikka who ran a tea shop near the Western Jetty. He is a story book by himself. The tasty lemon tea that he gave was just an apt starter for a deep and intricate relation ship that entwined us. Renjit Kumar sir found time to make and fly kite in the beach. We were lucky to see the local musical art form – Duff mott during one of the nights. We paid a visit to the golden Jubilee Museum which had archeological and navigational specimens and other old archives. We were surprised to see many Buddha Statues that were excavated from many islands in Lakshdweep.The excitement gave me the boost to find the earliest opportunity to come back in 2012 and 2013 to stay and work as Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in RGSH, Agatti. I stayed for around 3.5 months each visit.
I switched on to the native mode during subsequent visits to such an extent that in the last visit, I wore only Mundu instead of trousers and grew beard without cutting for the entire stay in the island ie nearly 4 months. Oohh! Goose Bumps.
Every staff would be given a cycle if needed. The next best option was walking, in an island where there were 5 autorickshaws and less than 5 cars. The Hospital had couple of ambulances also. The islanders mostly used bikes. My ischial tuberosities took some time to accustom with the cycle by later I thoroughly enjoyed it which I am continuing even in mainland.
Initially the operation theatre was beach view during the setup which later was moved to a better place with all required standard facilities. There was minor as well as Major OT with C-arm facilities. I used to get orthopaedic impants aired from cochin in case of any surgeries. Most of the basic specialties and superspecialties like cardiology, gastro/uro departments were working.
Our OP timings were 9.00 am to 1.00 pm and there after handling emergencies. Patients used to be airlifted from other islands in helicopters. After lunch, the Orthopaedic OPD used to become the internet café where maximum wifi signal was available. My routines were pretty much regular. Morning OPD, surgical cases if any, lunch, little bit of internet followed by short nap. Then Dr. Abdul Rahman and me used to go for long walk. We used to go in his bike to the airport area and then walk 4 km in 45 minutes. Then we would go to the western jetty beach to KD ikka’s tea shop and have nice chai and then sit and chat for hours. It was a buzzing place. Watching sunset is so beautiful. I used to have dinner from Ikka’s shop. Then I would get few of my colleagues in RGSH to start philosophical talks.Special mention to Drs. Resmi, Renjima, Renjith, Thomas…. The list is never ending. It will go on till late night. We used to gaze at the sky and learn about the constellations. I have seen more shooting stars during those few months of stay in Lakshadweep than my entire life. The simple reason was that I never used to get time to lie on the sand gazing the sky. Once I remember sitting there for continuous 16 hours (12.00 noon to 4.00 am) and still not got bored. The place is so rejuvenating. Regular supply of tea and snacks from KD Ikka added the masti.
KD ikka’s life was like a movie with so many told and untold stories and mysteries. A business man who transacts love instead of money. A man who doesn’t keep any account but work like a donkey with utmost service in mind. A man who is full of energy which is driven by weed and drinks. Even though these things are banned, he used to get regular supply. The blood concentration of the poison was directly proportional to the sound of his hearty laugh and the lateral movement on the beach. He used to experiment with the snacks and each one was better than the other, though masappam was the main dish. We used to forget number of snacks that we had in a day. My payment was a monthly lump sum where neither knew the real account. Love was above business. I have heard about his stories of multiple marriages, travel and living in Andamans, Lonely life in Kalpitti island etc.
The people and the topics changed regularly. What had not changed was me, the beach and KD ikka’s shop.
There were occasional changes in my routines. I bought a fishing line( tungees) and occasionally I used to go to Eastern Jetty for fishing. The passion for fishing slowly began to creep inside me. Then Me and Abdul Rahiman Sir used to go with large nets to fish in the sea close to the beach. We had also gone for fishing in the Lagoon as well as deep sea fishing in Shoukat’s Uncle Kochakkoya’s boat.
Most of the weekends, I used to go for snorkeling. I bought a snorkeling kit from Cochin which I later gave to Abdul Sir before coming back. When new colleagues joined, we used to go for reef walking. I was really playing the host.The corals, various sea creatures, shells and lagoon fishes were well appreciated during those low tides. We used to go many times to the near by uninhabited Kalpitti island. Crossing the Lagoon during the tide change was quite adventurous.
During some weekends, I used to go for very long walks alone for bird watching and Photography. That’s how I was lucky to find a European night jar. This bird has been reported for the first time South of Mumbai as confirmed in facebook by the great Tim Inskipp.
Abdul Rahiman Sir was my walking mate. We used to have long walks either south towards the airport or north towards the lagoon Beach. We used to see processing of Tuna fish and people playing games like Yettu kali, Charatham Kali( like Chess), Uppu thullal on the beach.
Both the years, I was fortunate to be there during the Onam period and we really enjoyed the season with sports, Arts and great Sadhya. Twice I got an opportunity to get inside the Lakshadweep sea ship which was docked in the Eastern Jetty. I met Caption Jerry and he was kind enough to show his cabin and we saw the wheel with the navigational gadgets and periscope etc.
Babuchettan was our ambulance driver and he had a favourite goat. I took out the poet inside him and composed his song about the island and the goat. I even composed few songs written by one of our staff nurses, Reeshma. But one of my greatest discoveries in Music was Dr. Narasimha Nandakumar who came as a resident doctor from Amrita. He was doing PG in Pediatric Surgery. He taught me the basics of music programming using softwares and our friendship has helped me in publishing musical albums.
The resident doctors were posted for a months and specialists worked for longer period. So whenever new group comes, we usued to arrange beach side barbeque party using fish or chicken. We enjoyed barbeque parties with many groups who got replaced after their tenure was over. I and Abdul sir used to be the common factor in the groups. The hospital also organized regular parties in Lagoon beach with songs and anthakshary.
Dr. Abdul Rahiman and I used to go for Octopus hunting whenever the tides became low. He taught me the art of hunting and we caught several of them in many occasions. His wife used to make roast/fry/curry/pickle and bring it for lunch. The taste was excellent. I lost the number of Octopus that I hunted with Abdul Sir. During one of our walks, we got an opportunity to hunt down a sting ray at the southern tip of the island near the airport.
Whenever the tides became favourable, we used to take new groups to the nearby island kalpitti. It is a small uninhabited island full of shells. Many times we played with Olive Ridley turtles. We educated the public regarding the importance of conserving them and their eggs.
Once I had a crazy idea of cleaning the island and I got out on a Sunday with few large sacks thinking of cleaning the airport area. To my surprise all my sacks were full with empty plastic bottles in the first 200 metres walk on the beach. Every other minute I had to jump into the water and scratch my body to satisfy the sense of itch as I was walking through the bushes and insect were having feast. I understood it was not at all an easy job.
I was lucky enough to witness the Lakshadweep school games that came to Agatti in 2012. It was a unique feast for the eyes. Children brought out their great talents.
I was invited by the prominent members of the island speak for meetings related to social awareness and health education. I had the privilege to be invited as a speaker for the School arts fest in Senior Basic School and I also took part in the presentation ceremony. The Local Jawahar arts and sports club conducted a blood donation campaign and I was the one who delivered the keynote address. It was a function inaugurated by the deputy collector.
There was a Half marathon competition in Agatti and I thought of competing for it. Practice started. Only then I realized running was not my cup of tea. I could walk and walk for any long but I became really tired after running around 5 km. One of the border security force guys won the meet. I realized that I could be a marathon walker but not runner.
It was quite exciting to get my family to Agatti. My parents, Roshin and Jonathan came in 2012 and Roshin’s parents came in 2013. They thoroughly enjoyed the stay. My parents stayed for 2 weeks and Roshin’s parents stayed for 4 days. Roshin was here for a month. As she was doing PMR PG, She was posted as Resident Junior doctor in Agatti hospital. While they were here, We attended our cook Fathukkka’s son’s circumcision party. We were fortunate to see the local cultural activities as well as relish the local delicacies on that day.
While my parents were here we did a Bangaram trip and I got a rare opportunity to stay in the guest house in Bangaram. Usually all the Bangaram trips were just day trip and I don’t think any Amritiites stayed there. We travelled in Kochakoya’s boat. On the way we caught a 17 kg King fish(Kuluval) and Kochakoya made Fry, Curry and Chandy( Coconut, Salt, boiled minced fish) along with coconut rice.
KD ikka was running his teashop in a condemned boat cabin which was lying on the beach near the western Jetty. Near to that he planted trees and moulded them to shape of tent with good shade. He then decided to shift the cabin near those trees that he planted and he asked the help of us. The native including Dr. Abdul Rahiman along with me one day did the job. It was quite tedious and required expertise. Coconut tree logs were kept and shifted by the rail road technique. He gave Biriyani treat to all those who helped him. Me and Abdul sir were left behind as we were busy and Ikka was pleading behind us to accept the treat and the Biriyani was awesome. He had regular treats with Appal(octopus biriyani. The taste is inexpressible.
In my whole stay in Lakshadweep I had done around 80 surgical procedures, including patients from other islands. Althaf was one one them from Minicoy. He later took me around during my one day stay in Minicoy on the return to Cochin.
There were few islands around Agatti. Among them, Bangaram and Thinnakkara were inhabited for some time of the year. Parali 1 and 2 were uninhabited. Parali 2 island was Abdul sir’s ancestral property. There was a Parali 3 Island which was submerged decades ago. Stories say first inhabitants came to Bangaram first (Banna kara – Vanna kara) and Thinnakkara island was where they had food (Thinna kara). Walk from one island to another was possible during low tides. The journey was mesmerizing. We had done quite a few trips and we had gone in boats like Ganjularsh, Safeenath Naja, Sulthanulhindh.
I was time for me to leave. I had one more in the wish list; Scuba diving. Sikander was a scuba trainer and with his help, I did 2 sessions. First I did it in shallow lagoon learning all the technique and symbols. Then we went to the deep around 15 metres. I was such an alien feeling. I was totally in a different world. So many different types of fishes including a shark which was swimming around 20 metres in front of us. I proudly live to say that I have swam with the sharks.
The hospital staff had given me a surprise of conducting a grand sendoff party towards the end of my posting. There were lot of cultural programs and many hidden talents were unleashed. I had the opportunity to compose our physician Dr. Mayur Hathis’ Gujarati song which I sang that day. Finally the party ended with a grind and everyone joined the dance party.
Every time I used the ATR flight to and from Cochin. I had actually seen islands like Androth and Kalpeni from the flight and also the famous Pakshi Pitti island inhabited by birds. I thought I would book ship for my return Journey in 2014. I booked MV Kavaratti which was the largest and scheduled the trip so that I could see Kavaratti as well as Minicoy Islands. It took 3 hours from Agatti to Kavaratti. I saw the capital of Lakshadweep from the ship. I could not get down there. An overnight journey across the 9 degree channel took me to Minicoy, a place with language and culture so different than the other Lakshadweep islanders. They were closer in many aspects with Maldives. Althaf took me around the whole of Minicoy including the beaches, desalination plant, the lighthouse the colonies and villages etc. His house was a 200 year old mansion which was featured in Ramu Kariat’s 1977 malayalam movie Dweep.
I met Abdul Rahiman Sir’s daughter Lukmana who was studying in Navodaya school. I reached back Cochin in an overnight journey.
A place which I truly miss, a place I really want to go back and live, a home away from home, a place where home felt heavenly; Lakshadweep, It is indeed a heaven where you feel homely.
Birds Seen (Local Name)
|1.Common Fowl||9.Common Sandpiper (Poochutty)||17.Black Naped tern||25.Barn Swallow||33.Brown Shrike||41.Lesser Frigate Bird||49.Variable Wheatear|
|2.Common Duck||10.Marsh Sandpiper||18.Ruddy Turnstone||26.European Night Jar||34.Grey Heron||42.Brown Noddy||50.Isabelline Wheatear|
|3.Turkey||11.Median Egret||19.Lesser Sand plover (Kunudu)||27.Bar tailed Godwit||35.Pond Heron||43.Common Kestrel||51.Wilson’s storm petrel|
|4.Indian Rock Pigeon||12.Cattle Egret||20.Kentish plover||28.Greated Short toed Lark||36.Common Tern||44.Lesser Kestrel||52.Northern Pintail|
|5.Oriental White eye||13.Great Egret||21.Greater Sand plover||29.Little Stint||37.Lesser Crested Tern||45.Common Redshank|
|6.Whimbrel (Koluvayan)||14.Little Egret||22.Tree Pipit||30.Indian Golden Oriole||38.Eurasian Spoon Bill||46.Common Green shank|
|7.Pacific Golden Plover (Chevaranchi)||15.Common Hoopoe||23.White Wagtail||31.Sand Martin||39.Black Shouldered Kite||47.Greater Crested Tern|
|8.House crow||16.Common Swift||24.Yellow Wagtail||32.Indian Koel||40.Drongo||48.Rose Ringed Parakeet|
Fishes Seen/eaten (with Local Names)
|Lion fish||Grey Snapper||Matti|
|Butterfly Fish||Fakkikadia||Red Snapper||Chammeli/ Pulariyam|
|Trigger Fish||Karatti||Blue and Gold Snapper||Manjan|
|Surgeon Fish||Nei Thala||Coral Fish||Pacha Chala|
|Angel Fish||Sardine||Vai Chala|
|Parrot Fish||Balala, Pheesam||Sand Dab||Lammam|
|Stone Fish||Honey comb Grouper/Rock Cod||Chammam|
|Puffer Fish||Powder Blue Tang|
|Box Fish||Thombu||Yellow fin Tuna||Poovan Choora|
|Needle Fish||Oola||Skip Jack Tuna||Mas Choora|
|Clown Fish||Dolphin Fish||Avanoose|
|Seer Fish||Ayakura||Rainbow Runner||Chameen|
|Jack/King fish||Kuluval/Maduthala/ Vangada||Gerrus Punctatus/ Silver Biddy||Porachi|
|Flying fish||Parava||Sail Fish||Olameen|
Other Sea Creatures Seen
|Sea Cucumber – Black, Brown||Kavadi||Clam|
|Star Fish||Cuttle Fish – Kanava||Corals|
|Snail, Shells||Octopus – Appal||Sea Anemone|
|Crabs, Hermit Crabs||Sea Urchin||Kalpitti Kol|
Sail fish/King fish/Needle fish eggs
Islands of Lakshadweep
1.Agatti. (Language – Jazzari)
Uninhabited Islands around Agatti
Bangarum, Tinnakara, Parali 1, Parali 2, ( Parali 3 – Submerged), Pitti – Bird sanctuary, Kalpitti, perumal Par
Watch my Photos taken from Gavi
Click on the youtube link below
Watch My Travel Photos and Videos in YouTube links
Watch on You tube the adventurous and exciting Desert safari done in 2011 in Dubai
Organised by Desert Rangers
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Trip to North East India was a dream come true. I got the best opportunity after I resigned from Amrita Institute before taking up the post in Believers Church Hospital. I took a two month break and started off with Papa for a 3 week journey to the Northeastern states of India.
On the 9th of March, 2014 at 6.30 am, we started off from Trivandrum and reached Chennai at 7.30 am by air India. We took the 10.10 spice jet to Bagdogra via Kolkata. Bagdogra is a defence airport. Reached by 1.30 pm. Mr. Sanjay had come on an Innova to pick us and we started at around 2.00 pm. We met papa’s friend Mr. Joshua on the way. I was happy to see Ayyappan Temple written in malayalam in Bagdogra
The road along the teesta river gorge was magnificent. On the way we Saw a Bike fell in teesta gorge near sevak.The guys were recovered. One guy looked quite serious. Only thing that we knew was that he was alive at that moment.On the way we saw factories of pharmaceutical companies like alchem, cipla, torrent, sun, Himalaya. We Reached Gangtok at 6.30 pm. Gangtok at night was looking great. papa had to buy a camera battery and we saw the Gangtok MG market; so beautifully maintained. The room was booked by papa’s student, Mr. Janga police ADGP in the Police guest house. The room name was Harini- Verditer flycatcher. We had chapathi, dal fry and chilly chicken for dinner.
Next day we started off to namchi. Sanjay was our driver for our entire journey in Sikkim We were told be him that there were three tribes or races in Sikkim, the Bhutia who are Buddhist, lepcha who are considered the indegenous nature worshippers and the Nepali hindus.On the way we saw a Dam built half way by the Andhra reddys
We stopped for tea in a shop near a Tea estate and the view of the estate and view and rhododendron trees were good.We had refreshing black tea.
On the way to Namchi, we visited Samudruptse Buddha statue which was a tall statue on a hill. I was amazed to see and excited to photograph innumerable species of birds around that area. We had to wait near the car for some time as our driver Sanjay was immersed in carom play with other drivers and we waited till the game was over.
Shirdi sai mandir was a good place to visit. The place was so silent and less busy when compared to our next destination. Siddheshwar char dham was a tourist destination on top of a hill and it had duplicated most of the temples in India. We could see the Samudruptse statue from far. We had Veg momos and wai wai noodles for lunch. I was a unique experience.
Due to the arrival of some VIP we had to change to the SIB the guest house and fortunately that was a better option. The night view of the city was awesome.
on the 11th of March we started off to Nathu la which is a mountain pass to China at the Indo China border which was along the old silk route. The road was quite treacherous. We got passes on the way. The view of the snow mountains were amazing. The ride along the slippery snow road was quite risky too but so exciting. Finally after many hours we reached Nathula.
Its a must see destination. The cherry on the pie was the opportunity to photograph a Himalayan Griffon. Near to Nathu la was baba mandir which is a shrine of a soldier. It was a unique experience. On the way we saw the beautiful Tsomgo lake. The scenic beauty was unexplainable. We had a ride on the yak near the lake. The snow fall on the way back was a thrilling experience. Momo was a favourite dish there and we did not miss any chance. We had veg steamed momo for breakfast and lunch, pork fried momo for the evening and chapathi, rice and chicken for dinner.
Next day we did a city tour . We enjoyed the Rope way, We paid a visit to a nearby Gojang monastery. There we had a funny incident where a monk hit a dog and fell from scooter. Ganeshtok was a high point where the view of the city was quite magnificient, The Zoo had very little animals but with great potential to expand.We also visited flower park, namgyal institute of tibetology, tashi view point, Do drul chorten stupa, enchey monastery and handicraft bazaar. On the way back we were shocked to see a scene where people were waiting to get the LPG cylinder. The queue was horribly long.
We had dinner from Tibet restaurant with Mr.Jenga and the menu was wanton soup, momo, fing and fried rice
On the 13th morning, We started off to darjeeling. We took around 4 hrs including time for breakfast.We bid farewell to Sanjay, He was a wonderful driver. The stay was in luxurious circuit house. In the evening we did a joy ride in the toy train from darjeeling to ghoom which was 7 km one side. We also visited the ghoom museum.
Next day we woke up at 3.30 am and started towards tiger hills. We got a new driver. Got the super deluxe ticket on the waiting area building. The sun rise was supposed to be at 5.55 am. We sat on the top floor of the building on the luxurious couches only to see the thick white mist.the view of the great Himalayas including Mount Everest, Kanchendzonga hit by the golden morning rays still remain as a dream. After breakfast we visited the Buddhist monasteries and also rope way which was recently reopened. It had been closed for 12 years due to an accident where some tourists died. The 40 min ride above the tea garden was good but the ride above Gangtok City was better. The Padmaja Naidu Zoo was quite a good one and we visited the Himalayan Mountaineering institute which was nearby. We paid a visit to the Dunggon Samten Choling Buddhist Monastery. After lunch we came down to siliguri and visited papas friends Joshua and Jonathan. Joshua uncle took us to another place where we had a bible study session and papa shared his experiences regarding the Allahabad history of change of Ganesh mani Pradhan to Joshua Pradhan. After dinner he dropped us in new jalpaiguri railway junction. To our shock we came to know that our train was 6 hrs late. It was to start at 12.10 am on 15th. On trying to confirm it, we came to know that the delay was extended to 7 hrs. We found that there was a train to Guwahati at 2.00 am, the saraighat express. We took the second class ticket. The train came and I headed towards the general compartment. Luckily papa saw the TT getting down and we managed to get two berths in the first class coupe. It was my first time in first class. We had to pay extra 1000 each. Inspite of reminding the TT, we were not given the receipt and so we can imagine where the money had gone to. We reached Guwahati at around 10.00 am and we took a share taxi to Shillong. There were 11 people in the Tata sumo including the driver. It took 3 hrs including the 30 min break in Nongpoh where we had masala pineapple and banana.
Our stay was arranged in Don Bosco Savio juniorate, the minor seminary. We were received by Fr. Sebastian Palatty who is a friend of Lakshmanan. They were together in Silchar. We also met Fr.Jose who was the director of Don Bosco museum for indigenous culture. After lunch we visited the museum. It was a marvel. It’s supposed to be the largest museum in Asia. We could learn the cultures of the various north east tribes. The view of Shillong City from the sky walk above the museum was unique and beautiful. There was a nine min video presentations also about north East India.
In the evening we met Mrs Peace Lyngdo who was a student of papa in agriculture college vellayani. They had met after 25 years. We did a city tour and visited golf course, ward’s lake and cathedral. We visited her house too.
She explained to us regarding the various tribes of Mekhalaya like the Khasi, Garo and Jintia. We had dinner from City Hut Dhaba and the ambience there was great.
Next day we set off to our dream destination the Chirapunjee or Sohra. Chirapunjee was a shocking experience. so unexpected. The place could only be compared to an inverted empty tumbler because everywhere there were coal mine which caved the land and also there were massive waterfalls only during rainy season. No wonder it can be called the “wettest Desert”. The forst destination was Duwan Sing Syiem View point from where we could see the Mawdok Dympep valley. There was adventure tourism happening there that included the ropeway. On the way we saw Nohsngithiang falls. The view was gorgeous though the water was less.
Nohkalikai falls was yet another marvel. It is also a must see destination. It tells the story of a girl who jumped off the cliff. We could only imagine its massiveness during peak of monsoon. Mawsmai cave was a unique experience. The walk along the 150 metre cave in the midst of forest was quite thrilling. I always longed for a cave expedition. Next destination was Thankharang park. It was a large park and was quite well maintained. It was quite unfortunate to see the dry Kynrem falls in the back ground of the park. On the way we saw huge Khasi Monoliths; the femaale ones were lying horizontal and the male ones were erected up. We also sawThomas Jones School of Mission named after a missionary who came in 1841. The Ka Khoh Ramhah was a huge rock that carried a myth of a giant that was killed. The place was unique as we could see the beautiful Bangladesh plains from there. The next destination was Elephant falls. It was a wonderful 3 step falls. Inspite of the pace being busy, it was clean and the bird life around it was also amazing.
For dinner we had Shillong noodles with chilly pork and also live music by Peace’s teacher Felix.
On the 17th morning 6.30 am, we started from Shillong. Peace arranged car driven by Sunil all along the Shillong trip. We had breakfast in local shop. We had jhado , it was masala rice with pork salad and fried veg. It seems there is a preparation where rice is made mixed with blood of pork, a Khasi delicacy. It would look red in colour. We missed it. jorabat kaziranga road had paddy fields on one side and tea garden on other. As we were nearing the park we saw tea garden on one side and national park on either side. We really started to enjoy Assam.
At Kaziranga we were welcomed by Lakshmanan’s friend, Sunny Choudhary, ACF. We did a Jeep ride in the evening inside the sanctuary . We could see lot of animals and birds. We had dinner with Sunny and he shared many stories.
Next day early morning we had a sanctuary ride on elephant. We watched many birds like vultures, storks, Pelicans and animals including rhino, deer,wild buffalo, boar really upclose.
After breakfast, Sunny dropped us at kaziranga bus stand. We waited there from 10 to 11.00 am. In between an Assam transport bus passed and didn’t stop. Standing was not allowed in the bus. We got a bus to jorhat. Reached at 12.30. After lunch we took the Assam transport bus to tinsukia. It was so luxurious with only around 30 seats.
Lakshmanan and family waited for us in tinsukia and took us to joinulabidins banashree resort in guijan, 8 km from tinsukia opposite to dibru saikhowa national park near the banks of river dibru. Cute looking bamboo huts close to nature. The huts were named after birds. We were staying in and Lakshmanan and family stayed in next hut. That night we went to nearby exhibition ground called riya enterprises. We got into the giant wheel, rotating helicopter and visited local stalls. We met the owner.Lakshmanan has helped to give permission to set up the show in his place sadiya. So everything was free for us as his courtesy.
On the 19th, we were taken to a near by ghat. Papa and me were on one boat, Lakshmanan and family on another. We had guides with us.it was maguri bheel (lake), a birders paradise. We were a bit late regarding the season. As things started to be exciting the clouds began to creep over. The thunder was frightening and it began to drizzle. Luckily we got back to the bank and found a safe cover. The downpour was heavy. As the sky became a bit clear, we roamed around the glasslands and did some bird watching. There were lots of ruddy shelducks and other birds. As we got on to our boats, a terrific lightning struck right on a metal wire right on top of us. Lakshmanans children got really scared. I felt a hit on my right ear. I guess it was a narrow escape for all of us. Lakshmanan and family any way had to go early and there was no better excuse to go earlier. We continued our ride in the boat. The climate became better. We had breakfast in the boat. I was really excited by the number,type and close proximity to the birds. In the evening we went for a grassland stroll and did bird watching.
Lakshmanan had discussed with ADC of Jairampur regarding the ILP(Inner line Permit) for us to enter Arunachal Pradesh to visit pangsau pass. So next day Joinulabidin took us in his jeep along with his helper . It was around 150 km from the resort. There were a lot of check posts including Arunachal police, Assam rifles army, Myanmar police and army posts. After all the hurdles, we managed to enter another country, Myanmar, without any passport or visa. Entry is usually permitted on 10th and 20th of every month when they conducted Burma market. Unfortunately Burma market was not there that day as the children had exams. But some shops were open. We drove around 5 km inside the entry check post.
There was a Buddhist monastery near by. I bought a handmade carry bag for my wife. The view of theChanglang ‘Lake of no return’ in the valley was beautiful. The condition of the road in Myanmar side was pathetic. While returning we met a malayali army officer at pangsau check post. From there I had to drive the vehicle as Joinulabidin was feeling so sleepy, we just escaped an accident and that was the reason I took over. We visited Digboi war cemetery and Digboi oil museum on the way back.
We stayed in Tinsukia circuit house that night.
On the 21st we started our most exciting journey to the place where Lakshmanan was working as Chief Judicial Magistrate; Sadiya. It was a trip of a lifetime. We started off early morning on a bus and reached on the banks of River Lohit,one of the tributary of Brahmaputra. The bus travelled along the sand banks . From there we look the boat to cross the ghat. It took around half an hour to cross the river. We were told it would take around 2 hours to cross during floods. We could not even imagine the might of River Brahmaputra. A 10 Km long bridge was under construction and so we would not experience this in the future. We took another bus from there to reach Sadiya. In most places roads were not even there and the trip was quite bumpy. We reached Sadiya by around noon. straightaway we were taken along with Lakshmanan’s family and his guard in his vehicle to Mayodiya Pass which was in Arunachal Pradesh.
We didnt have any difficulty in entry. The border was Roing and from there Ghat road started. The crossing along the dried river bed, watching wild Mithuns and the view of the valley from the top were all quite exciting. But the experience at the top surpassed all these. Mayodiya was 2655 metre altitude mountain pass. The view of the snow mountains was so beautiful and they still cherish in our memories. We stayed in the Circuit house that night. Next day Lakshmanan took us and showed around Sadiya. It was a small beautiful village. We visited the silk wormm farm also. We thanked good bye to Sadiya and Lakshmanan , crossed the ghat and reached Tinsukia Station. The Railway heritage park in Tinsukia was a wonder and it threw a lot of light regarding the history of not just Northeast frontier railway but the whole of Indian Railways.
On 23rd morning we reached reached dimapur. Got refreshed in circuit house. We obtained ILP from Mr.Thavaseelan who was the SDO, Dimapur and Lakshmanan’s friend. We took a share taxi to Kohima which took 2 hrs. We were welcomed by Papa’s friend Lanuakum Ozukum and he gave us typical Naga lunch. He explained about the different naga tribes. It seems there are around 14 major tribes. Altogether around 30 tribes. All have different dialects. But they speak mainly nagamese, which is a mixture of Hindi and Assamese.
Next day we had breakfast with David and Merlin who was also Papa’s friends. We visited the Museum and war cemetery, The kisama naga heritage village was a good place to be. But it became active only during the Hornbill festival in December. We had lotha which was a special naga dish for dinner. We also paid a visit to the State handicraft emporium and had a good walk back home. The cathedral of Mary Help of Christians was near to our stay and the view of Kohima from the top was beautiful
We came back to dimapur on 25th and stayed in circuit house. We Met papas friend Sharon there. It was a good experience to visit bamboo resource centre. We had dinner in Sharon’s house. The only thing we missed in Nagaland was to taste dog meat.
On the 26th of March we took the 12.00 noon air India flight from dimapur to Kolkata via dibrugarh.We saw a fascinating view of the Himalayan Mountain range through the aircraft window. The Kolkata to chennai flight was delayed by 3 hrs. We stayed in aunts place in chennai.
On the 27th we visited papas friend PC varghese in Chennai. We took the evening flight to Trivandrum with fond memories.
With good hope and dreams of a good career in medicine, I set off to UK to write my PLAB part 2 examination with Joe and Sarath. The STIC travel card gave us a heavy discount in our airfare. We took the Gulf air, departed at about 9.30 am on the 25th of May 2005 waving good bye to our friends and family. It was my first journey in a flight and also out of my country. The flight was full. We reached Abudhabi in 4 hours. Literally we had to run to the next terminal for the connection flight but not to miss the beautiful multicoloured massive central dome of the airport. The next flight was literally empty. It took 8 long hours to reach London Heathrow. During the journey, we saw residential apartments being built on the artificial island made in the sea in the shape of palm tree in Dubai
The view of the great Alps from above was fascinating. The snow covered mountains looked like the body of zebra. We checked out of London Heathrow at about 5.30 pm. Sajicha who was Sarath’s relative took us to his home in Harrow. Joe went to Leicester where his brothers stayed.
Next day Sarath and myself took a train from London to Sheffield in “virgin train”. It was fast and luxurious when compared to our own railways. Mohanbabu uncle who was my father’s colleague in agricultural college in Kerala was in Sheffield for his PhD. He came to receive us at the railway station. We met him infront of the W H Smith book house. We took a black cab and reached his home. The street even when all the houses seemed monotonous was still looking neat and beautiful.
Uncle’s son Kichu was eager to show his pictures and music in his computer. We stayed ther overnight and next day Sarath and me took a train to Manchester Piccadilly. We had to reach Old Trafford and so we took a tram. We had registered with Plabwise for the coaching for Plab test. The Plabwise people arranged the accommodation about 10 minutes walk from the coaching centre. It was above a mosque and Islamic cultural centre. The place was so quiet and peaceful.
The next five days was the intensive PLAB 2 coaching starting from 9.00 am which went upto around 10.00 pm. Earlier we cleared the part 1 in India. Over the few days, we started improving our communication skills by interacting with our classmates and teachers who came from different countries like Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran etc. We both were the only Indians. Me and Sarath did combined study for the next days in our room. We made friends with guys from Lebanon and Pakistan who stayed next door. We learned the basics of cooking. Well actually most of it were precooked, heat and eat items. It was not the time for experiments too.
My cousin Kochuchayan came to visit us and took us for a trip around Manchester. The city was pretty huge. Eventhough I didn’t have much interest in football, I was happy to visit Manchester United and Manchester City stadiums. I was told that the sculpture “Bee of the Bang” infront of the Manchester City stadium was worth millions. We also saw the renovated docks and the imperial war museum. Finally we went to the Trafford centre shopping complex, better called a shopping city. It was so amazing and massive that we could only see a part of it. I guess we could buy everything under the sun from there. We settled in a ship shaped hall and had a chicken dish from the Nando’s restaurant.
We came back to London on the 10th of June. We had already booked for a mock test with PLABswamy in Eastham on the 11th. Not to our surprise, East ham was almost like India. We could hardly see any British people there. The difference was really felt
We took the PLAB 2 exam on the 13th June. By then Joe also came to Eastham for his coaching. All three of us took a trip in and around London city reminding of the movie “Mandanmar Londonil ”. We travelled in the famous underground tube railway. By taking a day rider ticket, we could get down in lot of stations like Euston square, Leicester square, Piccadilly Circus, St.James park, Oxford Circus, Liverpool street, Monument, West Minster and so on. The view of the London eye, Big Ben and Parliament house were fascinating from the bridge over the Thames River. We saw London bridge from far. We strolled for a while in St.James Park. It was huge. There were a lot of swans in the park. A squirrel that was fed by a person suddenly jumped and climbed over my legs.
I came back to Sheffield on the 17th of June and stayed with Mohanbabu uncle for the next two and a half months. I roamed around Sheffield city by foot as well as in Kichu’s cycle. After passing PLAB, I concentrated on applying for jobs and running around hospitals in search of attachments. After many hundreds of applications, I got an attachment in Orthopaedics in Royal Liverpool University hospital with Prof. Simon.P.Frostick . I stayed with my cousin Nisha for the rest of the period in UK. From Liverpool I had a chance to travel two times to preston for a course, once to Manchester for my MRCS part 1 exam and once to Doncaster for my occupational health check for an attachment (which I cancelled later). As Sarath was in Doncaster I had an opportunity to visit him too.
In Liverpool I purchased a monthly bus pass to go to the hospital. With that, I could travel all around Liverpool any time. Apart from the career, it was a huge boost for my communication skills during my work in Royal Liverpool University hospital. Thanks to the patients from all over the world. Apart from the British, my colleagues came from different part of the word including India, Greece, Nigeria, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, Iran, Norway and Pakistan.
During my time in Liverpool, I visited the Liverpool Museum where I saw an Egyptian Mummy. I also visited Albert Dock, and The Liverpool Cathedral which was massive and amazing. I strolled through the China Market and saw the Liverpool Football stadium. Once a month we had Malayalam Holy mass conducted by Happy Achen. I met him earlier in Sheffield where he took me for the mass in Manchester. Infact the road trip from Sheffield to Manchester was so beautiful. The real country roads lie fresh in my memories. In both the churches, I had to introduce myself as it was a custom for new comers.
I had my first experience of snow in the Christmas season of 2005 in Liverpool. Me and Chakki enjoyed the evenings making snowman and playing with snowballs in the garden. I was excited to paint the fence of the back yard of our home during the stay with them. The change of the environment with the seasons was so amazing and I loved autumn the most. I even made a poem out of the inspiration.
I got addicted to the first ever reality show in BBC, “Strictly come dancing” and became a fan of Darren Gough and Lilia Kopylova. To add cherry to the pie, they won the competition too. Chakki and I practiced dancing after the show. She thoroughly enjoyed my stay there.
Unfortunately the change in the visa rules forced me to leave UK without a job. Of course I was upgraded from the attachment post to Honorary Senior House Officer in Orthopaedics. I got the GMC registration and the Hospital got a free job. But this couldn’t go long and I had to leave.
We spent some money for all this adventure, but the gain was massive. A whole lot of experience in life; feeling of responsibility, independence, Cultural integration, improving communication skills, tourism and sightseeing, career inspiration in Orthopaedics, the ever rainy and cold UK climate and by far the most, the ability to survive inspite of persistent hindrances and obstacles in life. The lessons that I learned from the British was
T was a very fast decision to visit Dubai and SriLanka on my return to India. Elsymmamma sent me the visa and I waved goodbye to UK from Manchester airport on the 4th of May 2006. On the way to Dubai, I had a transit in Frankfurt airport which was so huge that I had to take a train inside the airport to go to the next terminal.
Elsymmamma and Babuchachan waited for me in Dubai airport. They didn’t recognize me at all as I was having a “motta thala”. I had my hair shaved during most of the time in UK. I stayed with them in Deira for the next 10 days and 4 days in SriLanka with my cousin Sajanchayan. Papa joined me there and we travelled all around Sri Lanka. We were upgraded to business class on our way to Trivandrum
24th February to 2nd March 2007
One of my greatest treks covering Thekkady, Rajakkad and Chinnar. I was joined by Harisankar, Midhun, Sarin and Lakshmanan. We started from Trivandrum in train to get down at Changanassery and from there to Kumily by bus.
We reached Thekkady by evening and stayed in Tiger Bangalaw. I recognized the cook Vijayan Chettan who was the same old guy who came with me and Joe to Manakkavala Bison Camp in 15/12/2004. We exchanged old memories.
I still remember a funny moment happened that day on our way back from the trekking camp, we saw the spine and pelvic skeleton of a large herbivore(probably sambar deer). Vijayan Chettan had held it upside down and seriously describing each parts of the animal. He thought it was the skull and mistook the obturator foramen as the eyes. After all he is a naturalist and not an anatomist. I still remember his loud and hearty crepitus laugh in the bison camp.
We also met the DFO, Mrs Padma Mahanti and the range officers, Mr Radhakrishnan, Mr Karunakaran and also Mr. Basheer(whom we later met in Gavi when he was the warden and also in Thrissur Birdwatcher’s meet).
On the 25thmorning, we woke up in excitement. Everything set for the journey. Meanwhile we also met 2 foreigners, “the Timothy couple” from UK. With forest guard Chellappan and 2 other guides, we started off at about 9.00 am in the boat “vanalakshmi” owned by the forest department. We did not see any animals in the first 45 minutes. Unfortunately the boat with the tourists including the Timothys could not see any animals that day. I still remember my friends making fun of me when earlier that morning I was making a rapport with the Timothys by saying “this is the only place in kerala where we can see wild animals in close quarters”
But luck favoured us. As we sailed deep in to the forest interiors, we started seeing animals, a lone tortoise on a rock basking in the sun, wild boars lined up towards the banks to drink water, cormorants and later larger ones including elephants, gaurs and sambar deers.
We headed towards Mullakudy inspection bangalaw. Mullakkudy IB was situated at the junction where MUllayar and Periyar met to become Mullaperiyar. At the landing area we saw in the water a group of large tadpoles. Believe me, we have never seen larger ones than them till now. At the IB, we were amazed on seeing the size of the skull of a gaur kept there.
After tea, we got onto the boat and were dropped on the opposite bank after a 10 min ride. From there we did a 2 hr steep climb to Kumarikulam wireless station.The view from there was breath taking. The station was very near to the Kumarikulam pond and we spent some time there enjoying the beauty of nature.
From there we started walking and covered hillock by hillock, mainly grasslands to reach Thannikkudy forest bangalaw. It was built by the Travancore Kings.Nearby we could see remnants of forest fire which ate considerable area of forest.
We took bath in the virgin Periyar river. The forest guards said we took bath in the exact place where a tiger chased a sambar deer couple of days back. The mood was thrilling and we were ecstatic.
In the Thannikudy IB, we saw large skulls of deers. At dusk, we had a stroll towards the nearby watchtower. We saw tiger pugmarks in the sandy areas of the river. The trail ended in a place where we saw remnants of tiger kill. The guards said that the tiger had come the previous night. We were in the land where the real king reigns.
We also saw foot marks of other animals like herd of wild elephants and wild dog. We joined the guards at night for fishing and got “kooral” and had them for dinner. The day was really long and tiring for us and all we needed was a good night sleep.
We set off at dawn along the periyar river, proximally to Mlappara. On the way we saw a viper, gaurs, elephants and heard a sound which the forest guards told that it was of a bear.
We tied threads on a tree as a ritual where any person who makes the first trip was supposed to tie a thread to a particular tree. All the way, the views of periyar and its valleys were breath taking. We again saw pugmarks of tiger and also its scratch marks on a particular tree. Mlappara remains the deepest area of periyar tiger reserve that we have explored. The officers in the forest station of Mlappara were very cordial.
We reached Thannikkudy by around 4 pm for the lunch.On our way back we saw a herd of elephants. They were around 8 of them. Their positioning seemed so planned that the two little ones were standing in the middle and all the adults were feeding around providing good cover to the calves.
After a refreshing bath in the river, we walked to the watch tower. We came across a herd of elephants there also. This time we got “kuyil” fish.
On 27th morning, we headed towards Mullakudy through a different path. We saw huge tadpoles, skull of sambar deer and also hornbill. We took bath in the reservoir. From Mullakudy, we took a jeep. The journey was quite adventurous. We reached a place called Poovarasu and saw boars, skeletal remains of elephants.
We saw a group of hornbills. From there we went to Mangaladevi temple. Public were allowed to the temple only one day in a year. We were lucky to go there on a peaceful and silent day. We had a breathtaking 360deg view from the watchtower. We saw the thekkady reservoir, Periyar tiger reserve, Western Ghats border and the huge Tamilnadu plains.
We reached Thekkady back by evening.
On our way to Rajakkad, We took a lodge in Nedumkandam and stayed there. On the 28thmorning, we went to Mangathotti and visited our friend Paul who was a health Inspector. We visited Senapathi PHC and Mohan Chettan;s studio.
We visited Kuthungal Waterfalls near Rajakkad that evening and joined Paul chettan for fishing and got fishes like ‘paral’, ‘Neikooral’, ‘Sucker catfish’, ‘prawns’, ‘kallemutty’ and lots of other fish. The fry was yummy.
Next day we did a road trip to Chinnar wild life sanctuary via munnar and Marayoor and we saw “ kezha Deer”, boar, spotted deers. At 9 pm, I took the bus back to Trivandrum with lots and lots of thrilling memories.
On the way back from England in May 2006, I stayed about 10 days in Dubai and then 4 days in SriLanka. I reached Colombo airport on 14/5/2006. I got the visa on arrival. Papa had already come from Trivandrum the previous day. We stayed with cousin Sajan achachan. Without wasting time,we set out to cover Srilanka in achachan’s wonderful Toyota Verosa.
Buddha, Buddha and Buddha. All around SriLanka, it was he who stood out. It was Sri Buddha’s 2550th birth centenary and SriLanka was in a festive mood. Wherever we went, we saw countless number of his statues.
On the first day, we went to a beach side town named Galle,1 hour drive south of Colombo. Sajanchachan,his 2 children, Papa and myself got a boat,the floor of which was made of glass and we went out to the sea. The life underwater was so colourful and mesmerizing. We enjoyed watching the beautiful fishes and corals. We saw a beautiful turtle too. On our way back, we had an opportunity to get toddy freshly tapped from the coconut tree.
On the second day, Papa and me started off towards east to Pinnawala. We had a driver for the rest of our journey. Enroute we saw on the road, a person who was selling Porcupines and Toddy cats.They were mercilessly tied to chains.
Pinnawala is an elephant orphanage. Little orphan elephants are saved and reared there. Elephants were having bath in the river opposite to the orphanage. There were about 60 of them playing in water and among them was a three legged member. Everybody was eager to take photos with the elephants.
Our car was caught for over speeding twice. I guess it was no different from our place, the way Police hide behind the curves and suddenly jumping out. We passed along a place called Seegiriya. A single large mountain was seen. We were told that there were ruins of a large city on the top of the hill. It was a plateau and from far, we could see stairs to climb the hill.
Our journey continued and we reached a hilly place called Kandi. There was a small but beautiful lake in the midst of the town. There was a Buddha temple nearby and we saw the largest Buddha statue in the world with Dharmachakra posture(100 feet). We also visited the nearby museum.
Next day we went to Anuradhapura via Pollanaruwa. Anuradhapura had a word heritage city where we saw ruins of Abhayagiriya monastery. It included several Buddha stupas, caves, ponds, halls and museum.
On our way back, we visited yet another Buddha temple. It was really beautiful with gold plated railings around a huge Bodhi tree which was brought from Gaya.
On 18th morning, we flew back to my home town, Trivandrum after one year of life in UK. The icing on the cake was the upgradation to business class. Though the journey lasted only 30 minutes, the experience was exciting.
Srilanka looks almost like Kerala, the only difference being the umpteen number of Buddha statues wherever you look. Thanks very much to Sajanchachan and his family for taking all the pains and making our trip most comfortable and exciting.
16th November 2004 to 7th January 2005.
Shattering everyone’s future career plans, the government came up with a new Compulsory rural service plan in 2004. Some took it seriously but others didn’t. Anyway I was ready to take it and it was a blessing in disguise. Joe had got posting in Kumily which was near to Thekkady. With him I set off to Kattappana for a new life.
With all the big luggage, we took the train from Trivandrum and got down at Kottayam. We took a bus to Thodupuzha and then to Painavu DMO office to collect the joining letter as Assistant Surgeon. From there, we took a jeep to Cheruthoni and then a bus to Kattappana. Both of us stayed in Vimala Lodge. Joe left Kumily the next day.
17/11 My PHC was in a place called ‘20acre’ which was around 3 km from the town. The MO in charge was leave for 3 days and I managed the OP alone seeing around 200 patients.
18/11 I conducted a School Health camp in two schools atPuliyanmala. One of them was a branch of Christ Nagar where I studied in Trivandrum.
19/11 I climbed the Kurishumala hill which was very near to the town. It took around 45 minutes for the climb. I could see the whole of Kattappana town from there and the view was very beautiful.
20/11 I went to Kumily to see Joe. We went for an evening walk with Shaji and Suresh who were sales tax officers whom Joe had met earlier. We crossed the check post and entered Tamilnadu. We saw a dam inside the forest and huge pipes which took water to Tamilnadu. We saw the town Cumbum from there and it was fantastic.
21/11 We roamed around Thekkady and saw wild boars, monkeys, giant squirrel and sambar deer
I took a week off to come to Trivandrum. I was back in Kattappana on first of December. I climbed Kurishumala once more but this time I had a camera with me. For all the trekkings around town I was enjoying the loneliness. The place was just beautiful and the people were so simple.
2/12 I roamed around the Kattappana town and also the quarry in Puliyanmala.
3/12 I conducted the immunization camp in Kochuthovala.
5/12 After the OPD at 12 noon I walked to a nearby place called Anjuruli, a beautiful place bordered by the Idukki Reservoir. I saw a large tunnel which was around 3-4 km long carried water to drain in the reservoir. I couldn’t resist the temptation of climbing the nearby hill. There was a small teashop at the base and after asking the directions, I climbed up. The route was quite treacherous and there was no turning back. I took a break to sit down and have my packed lunch. All the time I was thinking that I was alone but I was not. As I was having the lunch, I was surrounded by a group of monkeys. Luckily I was not attacked and I quickly cleared the place. The summit of the hillock was picturesque. I could see a wide view of the Idukki reservoir and the Anjuruli, where I came from. I also climbed another Kurishmala nearby. After watching the beautiful sunset, I climbed down on the other side to reach Nirmala City and from there I walked along the road for about 1.5 hrs to reach Kattappana. I walked for around 8 hours continuously that day.
8/12 I was part of theWagamon- Erattupettatrip. We named it “Tour deJumbo” as Abhishek who was doing CRS in Erattupetta was organizing it along with Joy John from Poonjar. I came from Kattappana, Joe from Kumily, Aby and Shabu from Pathanamthitta, Jujju and Deep from Trivandrum. We stayed at Erattupetta. We were lucky to watch the wonderful fireworks at the Pala Church Jubilee celebrations and we met our classmate Sherin Jos over there.
9/12 We visited the PHC of Joy John at Poonjar. There was a Python caged in a nearby church. We set of to Wagamon in Dandy Chettan’s Jeep. On the way, the tyre plate broke which made a delay of around 1 hr. In Wagamon we roamed around Rolling hills, Pine forest,
Kurishumala ashram and saw the fishes and the 6 feet tall cows who gave around 45 litres milk everyday. Joy and me climbed the Wagamon Kurishumala in 15 min. On the way back we got into a Toddy shop and had meals with fish and delicious frog fry.
12/12 I went to Kumily Church on Sunday. Later Joe, Neelesh, Joy(local guy) and me went to Cumbum in Tamilnadu. And from there to Suruli waterfalls. The irresponsible tourists were dirtying yet another nature spot. We got caught by the Tamilnadu forest guards as we tried to climb up the waterfalls. It seems there was a reserve forest with some dam over there and entry was restricted. Anyway we took photos of the falls. We climbed the Kurishumala in Kumily that evening. God alone knows how many Kurishumala hills have I climbed over these days.
14/12 Kumily was just 1 hour by bus from Kattappana. So I used to do frequent trips. On the way I visited Chellarkovilmedu. The whole place was covered with mist and I could see the beautiful Tamilnadu plains and the Cumbum town during the clearing of the mist. It was quite adventurous to explore the crevices beneath the rocks and I was alone.
15/12 After the night stay at Kumily with Joe we did a trip to Thekkady with Nilesh and Health Inspector Thankachan. We went in the “Vanadarshan” boat owned by the forest department along with a guide named Vijayan. We got the bed sheets from the Hotel Lake palace inside the forest. We got down on the forest banks after around half an hour of boat journey. We saw foot marks of many animals. Our path was blocked by a group of wild boars and we had to wait for some time till they left.
We walked for around 2.5 km to reach Manakkavala Bison Camp. It was a beautiful camp site. Our great friend Health Inspector forgot to bring the Chicken that he bought the previous day. But luckily Vijayan Chettan came out with eggs, rice, jam and other items that he brought during his previous visits. He had been a guide for the last 25 years. Chettan made Chappathi for us. We did an evening stroll around the camp for 2 hours and saw wild boars, a big herd of Indian Gaurs(around 17),Nilgiri Langur, a snake, lot of beautiful birds and heard sounds of elephants and bear. We had a nice bath in the reservoir at around 6.30 pm and it was already dark .We could only guess the type of animals that watched us bathing. The experience was thrilling but not as thrilling as the wild life stories narrated by Vijayan chettan that night. How could I forget his crepitus laugh.
16/12 We had upma for breakfast. After a 1.5 hr walk along different route we reached the opposite banks of the boat landing area. On the way we saw a group of otters enjoying their time in water. We crossed the lake in a catamaran.In the evening, I took Joe and Neelesh to Chellarkovilmedu. This time there was no mist and everything was so visible compared to last time when I went alone.
18/12 Joe came to Kattappana. I got a bike from Koshy, the health inspector of Champakkara and with our health inspector Mathew, We went to Ramakkalmedu. The place was beautiful with 2 large statues of Kuravan and Kurathi, the rocks and the windmills and also the great view of Tamilnadu plains and cumbum town. We had dinner at Mathew’s house which was just half a km away from the tourist spot.
I went back to Trivandrum to spend Christmas with my family.
31/12 On the way back to Kattappana, I celebrated new year eve with songs and dance in KSRTC superfast bus with strangers. That was really a unique experience.
1/1/05 I visited papa’s friend Mr.V.M.Abraham and participated as chief guest and gave felicitations in their “swayam sahayaka sanghom” meeting.
2/1 After the morning Holy Mass I did trekking to a nearby place called Kallukunnu. The evening trip was to Puliyanmala rock. I really enjoyed the steep climb and the scenic beauty at the top.
3/1 Calvary mount was near to Kattappana and after the regular OP, I went there alone as always. The view of the reservoir beneath was breathtaking and that’s still fresh in my memories.
7/2 Time has passed so fast. The doctors who got appointments via Public Service Commission filed as case against the compulsory rural service saying that their jobs were in stake. So we were given the option of relieving from the service. As I was midway doing the preparation for a career in UK, I got relieved from the job of Assistant Surgeon, PHC, Kattappana on the 7th January 2005.