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Old 6th August 2011, 15:43   #1
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Default 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau

This is my second monsoon trip of 2011. The first was my trip to Bhimashankar. Some of you have already read it in the travelogues section.

This is a trip romancing the rain and the train. A round trip through South India.

Here are two pictures that speak of this journey.

Touching the rain
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030404.jpg

And our companion that made this journey possible and made it so memorable.
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030378.jpg

Last edited by pjbiju : 7th August 2011 at 08:53.
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Old 6th August 2011, 16:56   #2
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

Rains and nostalgia

Do you hate rain?
You are sniggering and telling yourself what a dumb question this is. I must be kidding, right?
Right. I am kidding.

I still wonder if there would be any Indian who hates the rain. I hope not.
I can never have enough of it.

However, it does not bring joy to everyone all the time.
It causes floods.
It converts most of our city roads into off-roading trails. Yes, it takes some help from our government agencies and contractors to get to that state. An infamous example is our very own NH17.
At times, the rain can be devastating.
Yet, we cannot hate rain.
Because most of these calamities are our own doing. We try to manipulate the nature and we are outdone every time. But we never learn. Do we?

Rain is associated with a lot of things.
It brings out the poets in many...
It makes some people break into a dance...
Some start singing...
It turns people into romantics...
It brings out the child in us...

I have some fond memories of rain. I am sure you have them too.
In most parts of Kerala, you can hear the rain before you can see it. This should be true of any wooded area. The noise caused by the large rain drops falling on the tree leaves.
We would race home to beat the rain at the first sound of it.
And when we cannot beat it, we would hunt for something to keep ourselves from getting drenched.

Banana leaves are the best. But you cannot get it at all places. You cannot easily tear it off too from the banana tree. The next best bet is large teak leaves. And they are more easily available.

1 June always meant two things. Start of the monsoons and the start of the new academic year.

Walking to the school along the slippery hilly roads was not always an enjoyable thing.
I would slip and fall sometimes. And that meant going back home because I could not go to school with the muddied school uniform. Yes, the roads were mud roads. So if you fall, you would get muddy.

And it also meant that my spare set of school uniform was still not dry because of the constant rains. On desperate occasions, my mother would hang the uniform over the kitchen fire.
Smoking them dry.
And the uniform would smell of the wooden smoke. And I would refuse to wear the smoked uniform.
I could not end up smelling like smoked meat in school. But sometimes I had no other choice.

Walking back home from the school was a different affair.
On the days that we did not take our umbrellas to the school, it was fun.
Once the final bell rang at 4:00 p.m., the kids with umbrellas would walk home.
Those without umbrellas would be running around the classrooms having a great time.
And then mother would arrive with the umbrellas and we would walk back home.
Walking back home meant, you could have fun in the rain as long as we took care not to get our books wet. Plastic sheets came to our aid. Nobody used school bags in those days. The books were kept together by a broad elastic band. And there was a special way of carrying them, supported by the hand and the ribs.
We would splash water using scissor kicks in water. This would produce a loud cracking sound. You had to practice to get it perfectly.
The last stretch of climbing down the hill was treacherous. We had to feel the rocks by our feet since we could not see them under the gushing water.

During lunch breaks, we would go to water springs that are aplenty during the monsoons. These springs would provide us with water to drink and to wash our lunch boxes. Most students would be carrying their lunch in steel tiffin boxes. Some others would be using banana leaves to make their bio-degradable lunch boxes.

I am not sure how many of you know this. You can make the banana leaf tear-proof by heating the leaf slightly over the fire. It also gives the food wrapped in it, a slightly leafy smoky flavour.

The large canal flowing through our village used to be our hunting ground during the monsoons.
There would be cashew nut fruits, coconuts, jackfruits, breadfruits, mangoes that would come floating down the canal. We would jump in to gather all these and take them back home. We would compete with each other to see who collects the maximum goodies.

We had our old home that had Mangalore tiles for its roof. Watching the rain water falling to the ground, sitting on the verandah is an experience that I would die for. I could sit there for hours. Sometimes watching the rain and sometimes reading books. So close to the rain drops and yet protected from them. The water drops constantly falling at the same spot would create small dimples on the ground.

There was a walking trail next to our house. It was wide enough at most places for one person to walk. So you had to walk one behind another. Basically it was a water trail. The water from the hill would flow through this trail. The trail also would be home to many springs. So during the rainy season, it became a mini stream.

We would build a small check dam on this stream next to our house. Once the water level rose to around 2 feet, we would break the dam open, only to watch the rush of water down the trail. We would build the dam again. We would repeat this several times during the weekends. We would also build paper boats and float them in these dams. And then as the water rushed downstream after we broke the dam, we would follow the progress of these boats to see how far they went before they took in water and capsized. It was like watching river rafting over some rapids.

And then there would be rain showers. My mother would tie a piece of coconut frond to a coconut tree. One end of it would be wrapped around the tree at the top. At the bottom, it would have a pointed end. What it would do is to channelize the water flowing down the coconut tree and make a nice shower. This would be used to fill large vessels and also for us to take showers.

All these are memories now. I moved out of Kerala many years back. And Kerala too has changed.
The mud road I used to take is a tarred road now. The rocky water trail next to my house is again a tarred road now. The simple houses have now become concrete houses. But yes, most of them still have tiles on the roof. But the rain drops do not form dimples on the ground. The courtyards these days are tiled.

The numerous paddy fields that used to help in water harvesting and replenishing the ground water is slowly disappearing. The tiled courtyards and driveways of houses no longer soak in water.

The springs are fewer. Children hardly go to the canal for taking bath. The houses have bathing rooms now. I can only sigh...

One of my biggest complaints in Pune is that I do not get to watch the rain. If I am in office, I get to know that it has rained only when my wife calls me to tell me so. And if I am at home, yes, I can see the rain. But it does not have the intensity or the feel of the rain drops that fall off the sloping roofs with the Mangalore tiles.

Back to the present now.

Usually we cannot travel to Kerala during the rainy season because by then my son's school vacation would be over. But this year I had to go home in July. For the past 2-3 years we have been taking flights out of Mumbai to go home. This time I wanted to experience the rains while traveling.

And what better way than to travel through the Konkan to enjoy the rains. And so we booked our tickets by the newly started Pune Ernakulam Super Fast Express that would take us home in about 26 hours. This goes via Panvel and the Konkan. A better option in terms of experiencing the rains and nature is the Poorna express that passes via Castle Rock (Dhudhsagar) and gorgeous forests. But that did not fit our schedule.

I opted for the A/C coach since that would protect us from the rain, and at the same time would let us enjoy the rain. The best of both the worlds. The regular sleeper coaches have windows that do not often close properly. This means a wet floor and your luggage have to be kept on the wet floor. Not a good idea. And it also forces you to close both the glass window and also the metal one. And this shuts off your view completely. One week before we were due to travel, the Konkan railway was shut down due to landslides. This happens a few times every monsoon. Luckily the train service resumed just before our travel date.

Usually I shudder to travel by train through Andhra Pradesh, especially in summers. But I have travelled many times through Andhra Pradesh in summer and that too in sleeper coaches. The heat wave could roast you alive. But it should be a lot better during the rainy season and I have never travelled through those regions during the rainy season. And so our return tickets were booked in Trivandrum Mumbai Express that would bring us to Pune in about 33 hours. Yes 33 hours. Not for the faint hearted. And in hindsight it was a good decision. The Konkan railway was shut again on our return dates and only resumed after a week or so.

And it is this journey that I wanted to share with you all. And how do I do that. I needed some photos. I recall my last train journey by the Poorna express to Pune. Every door of the train was occupied by people as soon as we entered any scenic portion of the journey. People were simply admiring the views or trying to take photos on their mobiles. The doors were occupied till sunset. This is the disadvantage of being in a A/C coach. You cannot expect to be taking pictures through the window. The glasses are usually dirty and slightly coloured and also dark tinted. And this is where the sleeper coaches are better. It is more photographer friendly.

Now when the trains are travelling at speeds of 90 to 110 kmph, it is not easy to stand steady at the doors, let alone take photographs. You have to keep the heavy doors from pushing you out. The floor is slightly wet. You cannot afford to slip. You cannot afford to crane your neck to see what is coming up ahead, so that you are prepared to click. Crane your neck too much and it would say bye bye to your body. And with the strong wind blowing in your face if you are facing the direction in which the train is running, it becomes difficult to open your eyes and see. You also need to guard your camera against the rain drops.

And then there are the electrical lines running parellel to the tracks. This is a phenomenon that is present anywhere you travel. By the time you see something beautiful and you frame and focus, the frame is far gone. You cannot focus on things that are near you when you are travelling at high speeds. So aim for things that are far away. You do not have much time for trying out various metering options. It is that you either get it or do not. But it is a fun process.

For me, I had to somehow beg my wife to allow me to go and stand at the door. She reluctantly agreed only because I was so stubborn and she knew I would not listen to her. But I had to occasionally leave the door and get back to my seat only to realize I missed something beautiful. As soon as I moved to the door, my son would follow me. And I had to keep an eye on him. I had to plead, cajole and sometimes threaten him to send him back to his seat so that I could take some photos. It is not without its peril. If you are not careful, you could lose your camera. In fact your family could lose you if you are overly careless.

So some of these photos are cropped. Some are out of focus. Forget about composition in most of the shots. These are what I call "grab shots". But these will still give you an idea about how beautiful our country, especially the western coastal area is during the monsoons.

Enough of ranting. Let us get to the pictures now.

Last edited by pjbiju : 7th August 2011 at 07:38.
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Old 6th August 2011, 19:55   #3
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

A beautiful river
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030370.jpg

Rolling out the green carpet for the train. How I wish the Pune railway station would look something even remotely resembling this!
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030382.jpg

The passing train - to remind that this is about trains
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030383.jpg

And rain
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030405.jpg

More rain and water
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030408.jpg

More rain and green and water
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030409.jpg

A mix of rain and train
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030394.jpg

Kaleidoscope of train colors and rain drops
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030395.jpg

Rain drops painting the passing train. Does anyone know which is this train so colorfully painted?
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030396.jpg

Rains that provide us with drinking water
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030401.jpg

Oh.. I almost forgot.

This is approximately the route that the train followed.
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-pune_thrissur.png

-To be contd.

Last edited by pjbiju : 6th August 2011 at 23:16.
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Old 7th August 2011, 09:04   #4
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

On our trip from Pune to Kerala, it was raining quite a bit along the way. And there was almost no sunlight. It was always cloudy or raining.

Do parallel lines meet?
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030412.jpg

The refreshingly green paddy fields along coastal Karnataka
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030428.jpg

Paddy cultivation is not as easy as it looks. It is very labour intensive in the beginning and at the end. Samurai had explained it in one of his travelogues. I will try to explain it again in one of the coming posts.

2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030426.jpg

The contribution is not only from men and women. We need somebody to plough and level the paddy fields. Tractor is not an option for small paddy fields. And tillers have not yet penetrated to all the parts of the paddy cultivating regions.
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030427.jpg

Another interesting sight that I saw was this. Can you guess what it is? No, the question is not about the buffaloes grazing in the foreground. Also I was puzzled by the whirlpool like structure in the water. Not sure what that is.
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030429.jpg

Last edited by pjbiju : 7th August 2011 at 09:43.
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Old 7th August 2011, 14:59   #5
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

Note from Support: Thread moved here from Assembly line section. Thanks for sharing the travelogue
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Old 7th August 2011, 15:04   #6
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

Quote:
Originally Posted by pjbiju View Post
Rain drops painting the passing train. Does anyone know which is this train so colorfully painted?
I guess it's the Duranto.

Brilliant pictures buddy ! The whole scenery looks so fresh and green and alluring. Time to make a train journey it seems
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Old 7th August 2011, 17:27   #7
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

@Biju - Man this is awesome. Train TL for a change. Simply loving it. Lush Greenery - feel like rolling all over it. Great snaps and captions from you as usual.
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Old 7th August 2011, 18:24   #8
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

Quote:
Originally Posted by pjbiju View Post
Rains and nostalgia


In most parts of Kerala, you can hear the rain before you can see it. ...
This is the second time your travelogue has taken me on a nostalgic trip.
Wonderful snaps too, as always
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Old 7th August 2011, 19:35   #9
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

Man, just when I started enjoying the t-log, like the Kerala power cuts ! Brilliant monsoon pics. Keep it coming please.
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Old 7th August 2011, 22:37   #10
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

Quote:
Originally Posted by swiftnfurious View Post
Man, just when I started enjoying the t-log, like the Kerala power cuts ! Brilliant monsoon pics. Keep it coming please.
Thanks Swiftnfurious. And we had a power cut after a long long time today. Also the whole day was spent in attending our society's general body meeting and in trying to enroll for the UID. Otherwise I was planning to finish off posting all the pictures today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mallumowgli View Post
This is the second time your travelogue has taken me on a nostalgic trip.
Wonderful snaps too, as always
Thank you mallumowgli. Sometimes I feel so sad that as we progress and become more modern we are pushing ourselves away from our roots, from our closeness to nature and the simple joys of love.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amitwlele View Post
@Biju - Man this is awesome. Train TL for a change. Simply loving it. Lush Greenery - feel like rolling all over it. Great snaps and captions from you as usual.
Thanks Amit. That is what perhaps we should do. Rolling over such green grass carpets and getting dirty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by normally_crazy View Post
I guess it's the Duranto.

Brilliant pictures buddy ! The whole scenery looks so fresh and green and alluring. Time to make a train journey it seems
Thanks Gautam. Yes, it is the Duranto. At least all the pictures that google came up with corroborate what you said. So we must have passed one of those when I took these snaps. Thank God the trains are so long. Otherwise I would not have got any snap at all.

========================

In my last post, I had posted a far away shot of something. The following pictures should make it clearer.

2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030430.jpg

Well they are.. I know some of you know what they are by now
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030432.jpg

It is what we have destroyed over the years
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030436.jpg

Yes, mangroves
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030433.jpg

And I was suprised to find this. A good initiative to bring back the mangroves and the ecosystem surrounding it.
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030434.jpg

We passed over many rivers. Unfortunately I could take photos of only a few since I was at my seat, only to miss many of them.

The swollen and muddy river announcing that it is the monsoon season
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030437.jpg

But life does not stop
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030438.jpg

Anchored to life
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030439.jpg

More paddy fields
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030440.jpg

And more of them
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030441.jpg

And did you think we are the only people who enjoy travelling by train during the monsoons?
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030422.jpg

No. These enjoy the train rides too...
2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plateau-p1030420.jpg

It suddenly occured to me that I had some old photographs taken while travelling by the Poorna express around three years back. These were taken with a film camera and the scans are of rather poor quality. And they were not taken during the monsoons. You can see how the rivers looked different then.

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Paddy fields in a different stage of cultivation
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- To be contd. Back to monsoon pictures in the next post

Last edited by pjbiju : 7th August 2011 at 23:06.
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Old 8th August 2011, 00:49   #11
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

Wonderful photos!!
Coastal Karnataka is beautiful during and after the monsoon season. I experienced it last year and can understand what you felt like when you passed through the area.
Plus the romance of traveling on the Konkan Railway. Ah!
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Old 8th August 2011, 08:30   #12
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

Phew lovely biju, whatta start to my otherwise lazy and sulking Monday morning. You brought back a lot of memories from my childhood days spent in kerala. Those relentless rains, the lush green paddy fields , the steaming kattan kaapi(black coffee), the fisherman who brings his catch to your door from the backwaters.

The 1st few posts itself has done its job as for helping me reminiscence those good ole days. I quite can relate to the building the check dam and jumping into those small canals for your daily dose of swimming.

Am hooked and please don't keep us waiting.
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Old 8th August 2011, 09:12   #13
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

@pjbiju, wonderful writing and wonderful pictures. i feel keralites are (arguably) the most nostalgic people and especially when it comes to rain.

one of the things i would like to add to the list about rain, is the smell of soil after the first rain. oooh, that's so lovely.

and then there are these flies that come out after the first rain...not sure what you call them in english..it's called 'eeyaam paatta' or 'eeyal'. they get attracted to light and used to fill the rooms in hundreds. we used to switch off lights in the rooms so that they stay outside. our cats used to have a gala time catching them.

phew! how i miss kerala. please keep the pics coming. they are so refreshing.
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Old 8th August 2011, 10:25   #14
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

Quote:
Originally Posted by pjbiju View Post
And did you think we are the only people who enjoy travelling by train during the monsoons?
@biju - What is the funda behind all these loaded trucks on the rail wagons? Any idea if this was done because the roads were inundated or is this some regular occurance? I must admit i am seeing this sight for a first time.
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Old 8th August 2011, 10:55   #15
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Default Re: 2011 Monsoon Trips : Romancing the rains. Postcards from the Konkan & deccan plat

@biju,
nice, very nice travelogue and pics.



Quote:
Originally Posted by amitwlele View Post
@biju - What is the funda behind all these loaded trucks on the rail wagons? Any idea if this was done because the roads were inundated or is this some regular occurance? I must admit i am seeing this sight for a first time.
Its RORO service of konkan railway.[ RORO= roll on roll off]
Trucks are loaded on rail carriages and transported to south or north of konakn rail tips which saves time and some fuel cost for truckers.

Last edited by ASHISHPALLOD : 8th August 2011 at 10:57.
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