My Travel Diaries - Nilgiris: Part 2

(Continued from an earlier, equally happening post, named 'My Travel Diaries - Nilgiris: Part 1')

It was dark. Very dark, by the time we declared ourselves the unconquered champions of Frisbee! We even did a 'samba' to prove a point and were soon joined happily, by the losing team.

After I joined the rest of them again in the garden, now pretty cold after an hour, they had started 'Dumb-charades' on movies - girls vs boys! The girls gave old movies to enact, hoping that we won't know. And we were ahead for two reasons precisely - one, me, as I'm the biggest movie buff in the gang! And two, we had the biggest nautankis (if there is a male version of drama-queens) among us. However, we couldn't get the better of them, as some of our girlfriends joined the opposing team to successfully guess the most insane movies we have told them about. 'Caligula' and 'Prometheus' were heavily regretted.

At the camp fire


The camp-fire was lit on the other side of the villa and we were asked to join everyone there. Most of us played 'Passing the parcel' there and followed it by dinner. After the dinner, few of us sat down closer to the rekindled fire. And by the time everyone retired back to their rooms, me, Madhu, Pinto and a few others huddled down in the cold, quiet ground, very close to the dying fire and started telling real ghost stories..

Somewhere in the dark, we were informed that a wild pig had come out from the wild and was roaming in the grounds. The manager of the villa went to investigate further as I formed a mental image of us, chasing away the boar!

...

As I headed upstairs, I found the entire gang there in one room. I was half asleep by the time I joined them for a session of some uncensored truth or dare. Here's only a part of what I can tell you from that night. My girlfriend seemed keen to sell me off to anyone willing for that one night. Then, although there were ample amounts of soft drinks lying around to adulterate the sinful ones, I was seemingly the only one to sip at them. And that it was airing 'Baby's Day Out' on Star Movies that night, quite ironically!

As I had already dozed off, waiting for the bottle to turn my way, my eyes opened up a bit on their own. They caught a glimpse of Aarushi, and her unflattering gaze down at me, 'If you want to sleep, you can go to the next room (spoilsport!)' I obliged, more out of fear. Ijaz also followed me into the room on the other side of the corridor and we passed out quick.

...

The next day, when everyone was sober, (there were obvious exceptions to this) we went up the Dodabetta peak, highest of the Nilgiris, at 2637m. A very picturesque place, we however, breached the security and ventured into the wild as we had an hour more to kill. We stepped on an aslant forest floor and a number of rocks to prevent ourselves from tumbling down thousands of yards, further into the clouds. We clicked photos and I had the first of my 'never gonna happen again' moment there, as I looked on at my crazy best friends.

Here, we took a souvenir for all of us - a Polaroid group photo! They all came wonderfully, and the photographer earned heavily enough from the whole gang. Lucky guy, caught us at our weak point..


Me, hanging from the branch, bums up, like a leopard!























Next, we went to Pykara, but not before having a fantastic lunch at Ooty for a change. We dished out a couple of grand on all the non-veg items mentioned in the menu. Our home-grown PETA workers, Aarushi and Arpita probably hate us for that. At Pykara, which was higher than Ooty, we first encountered bone-chilling cold and the macho in me, who had decided to just put up a half jacket on top of two t-shirts was regretting the whole time. However, I got some piece of extra clothing from Anshu and Madhu to get along.

After a long hike on the muddy, hilly track, we reached the water-less Pykara Falls. We were informed by the woman sitting at the forest dept. owned barricade that because there was no water, we won't be charged the 2 rupees entry fee.. Okay, THANK GOD!

Mildly disappointed to hear about the purposeless nature of what lay ahead, we welcomed the full blown explosion of green and grey as we reached the falls! In the center lay flat rocks, with fast flowing water akin to that of a rapid, but a lot less in volume. To the right side was a dense, tall pine forest and on the other side was a coniferous forest denser than the other. We were informed that there are leopards in these forests so we should remain huddled together all the time and should not cross on to the other side.

But I guess the philosophy that we were following was that it would be an icing on the cake if a leopard shows up and grabs one or two among us away. Shubh-shubh bol, beta!

The water-less Pykara Falls

Arpita, being a toad!

At Pykara; do you see the Pine forest I told you about?
























By evening, we decided to head back to the commercial centre of Nilgiris, that is Ooty, to chill out, maybe get some shopping done and perhaps finish off dinner. A few of us discovered a Cafe Coffee Day, whose existence I had no idea about last time we came here, four years ago. Irish coffee, some hot chocolate, an american chocolate muffin warmed us from inside, as it was nightfall and very chilly outside. The rest of us, I think, went to a Dominoes Pizza, which was also a new addition to the hill-town, for me.

After CCD, we ventured out and went shopping to all the places I remembered from four years back. Bought home-made chocolates from the same shops, a cowboy hat for Naidu from where the girls had bargained heavily four years ago. It was all coming back to me. There, another of those moments. Rupsa bought a t-shirt from a hippie shop and Rahul, who incidentally grows backwards, bought a toy laser-guided gun with small yellow pellets! We had such a nice laugh about it the whole time after that.

...

At night, I found myself sleepless suddenly and went to the room with all the action, in the previous night. There were a bunch of people playing the card game 'Bluff' with obvious addition of some new rules laid down by our very own Nikunj Daga. I barged into the mattress shared by my favorite couple and ex-roommate, and was half watching the movie Salaam Namaste, and half following their game with two of my drowsy eyes. As they would have it, Nikunj's rules were twisted such, that no one could finish that game. Everyone was left with one card in the end and from the brink of winning, they were thrown back to a downhill of never-ending card campaign. Everyone, but Akhil though. That clever fellow and a 'bada waala chhupa-rustum' calculated his game and brought it down to two cards and a game over in the end.

Unlike the previous night, this night was an end result of everyone either being tired or hungover, or feeling lightheaded due to the quick climbing down the hill and the resultant pressure drop. Good night it was, after that.

...

The next day itself, was the pack-up day. Sad. Those moments flashing by every now and then. Maybe, that's why few of us, including me, missed the early morning trek into the forest. The trekkers, seemingly found porcupine spines along the trees, birds of different colours and wild elephant calls from far. We woke up aaram se, taking our own sweet time, and started packing up, after a hot water bath.


Arpita, Aarushi, Akay, me, Arjun and Ady

Me and Rupsa, at the CCD in Ooty


By the time we checked out of the villa, it had started drizzling, something we were afraid of throughout our stay. Good to see that we were spared of it until the very end! We started our downhill climb and everyone remained bogged down for sometime after that. But it wasn't the end as we decided to stop at one more place before heading back home. After lunch at another non-veg heaven (which we barged in just because we heard some veggie-heads say 'that the place even smells of chicken!'), we visited the Bhavani Sagar, a hydro-electricity generating dam.

However, none of us had any interest in the dam and all of us decided to go down the memory lane and play games we used to play when we were kids. Games such as lock and key, followed swiftly by kabaddi. In kabaddi, Spoorthi  humiliated 5 of us guys, including me, by literally dragging herself to the line as we hung on to her, and took ourselves out along with herself! Something, our team captain Naidu will regret forever. We got scratches, cuts, bleeds and Rahul tore off his shorts in a not-so-comfortable-in-front-of-girls way. But he pulled it off pretty easily, thanks to his colourful boxers.

The bus wasn't really quiet after that and everybody wanted to end the trip on a high. So back to what we do best, we danced to Bollywood item numbers crazily, again! All started sweating and panting for we were no more in the high lands and it was now pretty humid. We stopped to have dinner at Adyar Anand Bhavan, near Dharmapuri and dozed off soon after that..

...

We reached our respective hostels at about 3:15am and plunged into a deep sleep soon afterwards, dreaming about the places we visited, songs we danced at and the friendships we strengthened. It was difficult getting oneself out of the 'mode' we had set ourselves into. Kind of like the last few scenes of the movie Swades. Shahrukh Khan was seeing the flashbacks of his Indian hometown and the Indian-ness around him, while we were seeing the hills, the smiles and the fun-clad lawlessness!

God, farewell is going to be a painful heartache now..

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