May 10, 2006


This trip had been in the planning stage for oh-so-long. And finally we were on our way. Diminished in number, and in stature. The AC Tempo traveller became a non AC one due to sudden unavailability of the one we had booked. There were supposed to be twelve of us, and that became nine. But dodo sure wasnt complaining, esp since she bagged the last seat and was probably the only one who slept comfortably.

As we settled into our rooms, srinath entered ours and sneezed. A huge ball of mucus fell down on the bed. Wait a minute, it was lavender in color. Sure wasnt mucus. But definitely icky. Su, the proud owner of the slime, hung on to it the rest of the trip. Throwing it at people. But of course, the cover of the slime-thingy said 'Suitable for: Five Years and above.' He qualified.

After lunch, our guide/ owner of the guest house was briefing us about the rafting. Do not wear rings. Wear sports shoes. Pratima kept insisting that the windows of the guest house should be kept locked at night, to avoid snakes. So someone asked the guide if there were any snakes. 'Sure' he pointed in the direction of the fields behind the guest house, 'you will find plenty of King Cobras there.' We were truly in the midst of the jungle. No network (mobile). No landline connection.


'Once in a while.' He came back to the rafting trip. I ventured, 'Crocodiles?' in jest.

'A few.'

Shocked stares. 'You mean they allow us to raft in crocodile infected waters?'

'No m'am, they aren't found in the place where the rafting takes place.'

Big consolation.

We left for the Jungle Lodges, from where a jeep would take the nine of us to the rafting starting point. It was an open air jeep. An unexpected bonus. We stood most of the one hour ride, quite forgetting the crocodiles part. Finally, we reached the starting point.

John, with a British accent, took over, made us form groups, told us that we were to travel in 6 rafts. There were 40 of us, all set to do our bit of adventure sports. Jo( separated from Su), Shashi, Nitesh, Raful and me were in one raft, headed by John and another chap, white male caucasian, was with us. His name was Manu. We will come back to him in a mo. Dodo, Su, Parts and Srinath were in Bobo's raft, along with a couple. Bobo was from Sweden. And was just three days old in River Kali.

Life jacket, helmet and the oar adorned, we set off. Not so fast. The safety instructions. Forward paddle, Backward paddle, Hold on, Get down and Hold on, Over right, Over left. As if that weren't enough, we were told how to swim if we were approaching a rock, how to pull someone from the water onto the raft, what to do if a raft overturns, et al. I was having visions of the raft overturning and me forgetting all the instructions. Jo apparently, was thinking the same thing of herself.

Then came the customary dips in the water. It was really cold, and the river bed was not within reach of our legs. John took Manu's glares before his dip, and commented on how expensive looking they were. Not a moment too soon, for one eye piece popped out in his hand as he said it. Manu had bought it at a two dollar store. No wonder!

Su was more worried about his pants slipping off, than anything else while taking his dip. Thank god the procedure to pull someone back into the boat was to pull the lifejacket, not the hands, else he would have been hanging on to his pants, instead of the savior's hands.

John went around telling each raft their position, and we were the last, and Bobo's just before us. The first rapid was upon us before we knew it. John told us it was the biggest rapid in the entire rafting section. We were feeling quite brave after that, till he added that there were difficult ones up ahead.

Forward paddle, backward paddle.. Get down and hold on! was all we heard. In the lull of conversation, Jo and I tried making conversation with Manu. He was sooooooooo cute!!! When he got a leaf stuck near his eye, both of us pointed it out to him. Like he couldnt see it! ;)

Bobo, as I mentioned, was very new, and almost lost his way a couple of times, besides getting stuck on a rock, and teaching his rafters a Swedish war chant. He asked the Dodo, Parts, Srinath and Su if they were couples. They shook their heads in denial, and quite forgot what they were. Finally one of them said ' Just Friends', to Bobo's disbelieving grin.

I asked Manu, 'how did you get that name?' you know, him being a caucasian and all. 'Long story' he said, too bad we didnt get to hear it :(

John is married to an Indian, and stays in Bangalore, and holds a PIO card. The only difference between him and us, he said, was the skin colour, and swimming abilities - his being better, of course !

Too soon, the rafting trip was done. One and a half hours went by in a flash. And we were soaking wet. Parts whispered to Jo about Su's pants getting loose in the water. And made a claim to the colour of his chaddis.. Su was within hearing distance, and proudly pulled down his pants to give them both a closer look. Not all the way down, thankfully. Black Jockey, if you were wondering (not that I looked)!

John and Manu hitched a ride in our jeep. No complaints from me n jo. :) All of us talked about Bangalore's traffic, and Manu was complaining about how he takes one minute to get to work, in Dandeli! grrrrrrrr.

On our way back to the guesthouse, Jo's singaporean hat was used as a lampshade, pirate cap, and also as a face-cover for those who wanted to sleep. We had a campfire outside the guesthouse, and each one was made to dance, except for Raful. Su started off with a Nagin dance, Dodo did a lovely imitation of 'Kya bolti tu' and Pratima rocked with her hop-skip and jump to the tune of 'Mummy...' around Su !

We were all determined to stay awake, so a few ghost stories/ encounters made the rounds. Which left Jo quite scared of walking back to the guest house alone ;)

There were two bedrooms and a huge hall in the guest house. Jo n Prat persuaded the guys to sleep in the hall( on the mattresses, silly!) and they went to the room, quite pleased with themselves on having bagged it. Till they saw the undies displayed on the window railings. In all shapes, sizes and colours. They tried speculating on the owner's, apparently. We shall let it rest right there!

Srinath woke up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep coz of the pain in his rowing arm. He went to Jo's room to ask for a tablet, and was quite scandalised on seeing them both sleeping, ah well, quite next to each other; and almost retreated from the room. Then he realised that both Jo n Prat had been given just one pillow between them, and went back to the room to get a painkiller from Jo.

After many flip flops on the plan for Sunday, it was finally decided that we go to Yana, along with stopovers at a waterfall and a religious place. The waterfall was quite a disappointment, as we couldnt get into the water and we could only take pics of it from a cliff. The religious place we went to was much the same, with shivalingas that apparently are formed all by themselves, which looked quite improbable. Su went to a guru and performed a pooja, probably keeping his progeny in mind, and came back with the story that a king was asked to build all these shivalingas so he could have a kid.

We set off for Yana, thinking that the most fun apart from the rafting trip had actually been the travelling, in part due to the scorching sun. Lunch and icecreams at Sirasi, with Su purpotedly trying to kill Jo by giving her one that was well past its expiry date - the icecream, i mean. But we know otherwise! :-P

We had to trek 3 kms to reach Yana, all of it through the jungle, with Srinath and Shashi prodding us on, sometimes with sticks, saying that we had to walk faster as we had to leave the place before sunset. With Su and Rahul making mating calls (probably to each other) hoping for a peek at wildlife, and a gal(who shall not be named here) wanting to take a leak, we somehow made the three kms, and then from just behind a rock, when we were quite tired of all the walking, pops out the mountain. Yana. So beautiful, definitely worth the while. (if thats an expression)

There was a temple set in the mountain, and the poojary told us that many people had tried researching about the mountain, as to how it came about (looking as it does) and no one had a satisfactory answer. According to lore, Shiva kills the demon brothers( i forget their names) and Shiva and Parvati and their followers, took up the mountain forms. There are 63 such rock/ mountain formations in Yana. During the british rule, many uttar kannada followers would make a journey to the temple. When asked by the britishers, they would say 'naavu yaana ge hogthaidhiri'(obviously not d exact words - meaning 'we are on a yatra') and the britishers thought that yaana was the name of the place and named it on the map as such. Thats how the name came to be.

The poojary also showed us the outline of a watery shivalinga that is formed by a steady flow of water, you can actually make out the snake, the moon and the ganges, all in that watery outline. The water flow is constant, that is it never increases at the time of flood or decreases during drought. :) There is a pathway around these rocks which actually is a pradakshina around the temple, which took us through a series of cave like rock formations.

The only problem about the place was its, well, basic amenities with regards to the loos. It was uh well, quite inaccessible by foot, even with raful trying to clear a path, and looked quite disused sitting about ten feet higher than ground level. We shall not reveal how the problem was solved :-P

Then started the trudge back to the tempo traveller. And the exhausting journey back. Dinner at shimoga. Oh I left out the wonderful music collection we had. Himesh reshammaiya and no one else the whole of the first day. CD courtesy: Su. rather, su's bro. Jaggu uncle (driver) had a vcd, of shaadi se pehle. We watched probably 40 mins of it. Not worth a watch. As for the music, we would like never to hear himesh reshammaiya again ;) Thankfully, there were a few songs of Rang De Basanti too. Raful had a collection of old hindi songs and their originals in english! Quite disappointing to know that most of the songs we love, are all lifted tunes. :(

We reached Bangalore! at around 4.30 in the morning, and delivered right outside our homes. Lovely trip, and i hope prat will upload all the snaps before the year ends!

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