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Old 4th June 2010, 11:10   #1
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Arrow To 'Garden City' through Tamil Nadu

“A travel thro tamilnadu? Didn’t sleep at all at night during the travel? Greenery in tamli nadu? are you mad?” asked my friend.. he couldn’t be blamed as these were the questions I expected the most if I ever told someone that I enjoyed my night journey through tamilnadu. But, for someone who loves rural life and nature, this is a journey to cherish. This is a prelude to a detailed journey through rural tamilnadu which I plan to undertake this month end/ july..

The background of the travel was the constant biting by the ‘travel bug’ which bites me every now and then. But, this time the bug had bitten me so hard that I wanted to undertake a journey and tick off the pestering bug.

I was woken up on a wednesday morning by the thunder clap at 6Am and it was pouring like hell..ahhhhh..what a way to begin a lazy day I thought..As I lay in the bed listening to ‘Windy Town’ and ‘Curse of Traveller’ by Chris Rea, a sudden flash went through my mind. These songs are supposed to be among the best travel songs and these song always gave me a feeling of driving under the endless sky on a rainy day. The crazy idea of a long distance travel went through my mind. The next possible thing was the road trip to Bangalore via madurai-selam. I’ve been a frequent Bangalore visitor for the last 12 years, I’ve never decided to take a trip to B’lore at such a short notice.

Now what? Oh yes, the leave from office. Rang up my lovable boss-

“ Ringggg ringgg..
Boss: hellooo..(in a tone which meant “oh nooo…not again, I’m suffering him from 9-6, then why now????”)
Me: G’M’ng boss, errrrr…I would be thankful if you can let me take leave for few days for an urgent B’lore trip.
(Doesn’t a hungry wolf like to hear the cry of a lone lamb/sheep? I would love to have seen his expressions when I asked for the leave)
Boss: (Am I dreaming????nahhh…I’m awake) Yessss..Approved (Phewww..the more leaves he avail, the more settled I can be in Office)
Boss: How are you going?
Me: By Bus
Boss: Did you get the ticket?
Me: Not yet bossie, I’ve to check it out
Boss: In case you find it difficult to obtain bus ticket, let me know. I would help you with the flights
Me: I’m indebted to you bossie.
Boss: Yeaaaa..I know (Get the hell out of here before you change your mind)
"

What next? Ticket- It was time to visit the ‘KPN Air Bus’ Office. For Mallus, KPN was what gave us the first comfortable bus rides to Bangalore. I still remember a friend of mine from Madras who read KPN Air Bus as KP-Nair Bus and asking me how mallus could turn out so low by naming a bus as ‘Nair’ (caste name)

Its been quite a while since I’ve travelled in KPN as I has shifted my loyalty to Shama Travels/ SRM Travels for some time..Got the tickets booked in the 6pm B’lore bus via Nagercoil-salem. It was on my customary seat No.19, which I’ve been adamant on since my 1st bus trip to B’lore.

The decision to travel via nagercoil didn’t backfire as it gave the beautiful night glimpse of the vastness of the flat lands and the ‘u-wont-believe’ heavy farming on either sides of the roads…wonder how beautiful it wud’ve been if it was a day travel.. the best part is the difference it makes once u get over kerala.. eyes get soothed by the openness and greenery rather than concrete structures by the road sides in kerala.

Started from Trivandrum at 6pm and it took 3 hours to reach nagercoil by 9pm..3 hours (for covering nearly 78Km) stuck in the mindless traffic, crawling at 40kmph @ the max..wish i had a gun to hold onto the National Highway Authority of India and ask them to 6 lane the roads to tvm on the double..I couldn’t wait for the wide straight NH which, started from Valliyoor, nearly 30kms from nagercoil.

Had the customary ‘ney-roast’ at udupi hotel in nagercoil..dont know y the trip this time was more nostalgic than ever before.. may be its the urge to write down something..udupi used to be the usual ‘feeding point’ on the blore trips of yester years and the trips to vadakankulam raja dental college during 96-97..it was nice to be back at udupi hotel after nearly 4.5 years..last stop there was during the Chennai trip back in august 2005. The 2nd stretch started at 9.30pm and the wait for nearly 30 kms till valliyoor was like eternity. But the journey would be thro thovala, arulvamozhiand kavalkinar before reaching valliyoor..

Being a music lover, I’m inclined to use some of the Ilayaraja songs. Some of the lines in such songs have been quoted to convey the beauty of the places/ memories..

Thovala

"vetti veru vaasam,
vedala pulla nesam,
poovukku vaasam undu,
bhoomikkum vaasam undu,
verukkum vaasam vandha-thundo mane.."


dont know y i love Thovala so much, as the bus sped by passing thovala, the fragrance of flowers came in..the roads were dotted with flower shops on either side. The moment when the bus stopped for the customary purchase of the garlands from a flower shop, the fragrance rushed in. Wonder if ilayaraja also had the same liking for the nights and fragrance of flowers as he composed the songs like ‘rasaave unna nambi indha rosaapoo irukkudunga..’ maybe he saw or visualized the full moon up in the sky as he stood in the flower fields..

Arulvamozhi

"mustafaa mustafaa dont worry mustafaa
kaalam nam thoazhan mustafaa
day by day day by day vaazhkaip payanam day by day
muzhugaadha shipae frienshippaa..
"

those were the days of ‘96, the days of the Rajas Dental College at Vadakkankulam, where i had spend the time between Nov.96 and Jan.97. (That’s another long story as to how in joined RDC and the entire capitation quota seats of 96 batch was kicked out). To reach the college, we had to get off at the aruvamozhi jn. and take the right route to vadakkankulam. Arulvamozhi used to be a typical tamil junction with small temple, few al-marams (banyan tree), pettikadakal and small hotels. ‘Mustafa’ song got popular at that time and was played on 24hrs then. As soon as we alighted the bus at the arulvamozhi jn., we could hear Mustafa..mustafa....it followed us everywhere, on the road, in the trekker service to vadakkankulam and in the seniors rooms in the hostels. May be it was the only sound at night in the hostel. There are songs which reminds an era or event in life which has gone past us..Mustafa brings back the memories of good ol’ RDC days..the song did capture the essence of college life.

Kavalkinaru - The windmill road

"This is the way
That the windmill goes round
High, then low
Brushing the sky.."


Windmills were always a fascination for me, right from childhood. The windmills banked the NH7 at Kavalkinaru. One section went on till valliyoor and another section ran to right to reach Vadakankulam crossing the railway lines. At vadakankulam, the hostel rooms in RDC had direct view of the windmill farms beneath the mountains..As it came to life, the windmills has a humming sound, which would be the only audible sound in the nearby area and this created a mystic aura..This was broken only by the murukan songs and ‘suprabhathams’ coming from the temple atop the mountain along with the distant whistle of the trains passing below the mountain..This track then runs parallel to the NH at Kavalkinaru till valliyoor.

Valliyoor

"the roads are wide, open and long
but I have a journey to begin
and miles to go before I sleep..
"

This was what i had waited for..the wide open roads and it was like a rush to fresh air from the container bottle.. there, it lay before me as inviting as it was..it wouldn’t be off mark to state that the road ahead me was one of the beautiful NH in the country, if not the beautiful. I presume that even the bus felt happy to see the sudden openness in the roads and the meaty vroooooommm... from the rear engine of the powerful Volvo bus denoted its happiness. From there, the journey would be through the middle of the farms and plain lands .

Thirunelveli- Madurai - Dindigal


"Antha Nilava Thaan Naan Kaiyila Pudichen En Raasathikkaga
Enge Enea Konjam Naan Parkuren
Kannai Moodu Konjam Naan Katturen.."


By then, the moon was in full flow, spreading the milky white radiance on the trees and distant mountains. Having travelled recently in the stretch till thirunelveli, I decided to doze off a li’l bit. As I woke up, the bus was nearing Madurai. It seemed that the stretches after thirunelveli were more vast and with the mountain silhouettes at night and the moon light reflecting over the full canals, the setting was perfect..If I had my camera with me then, I would’ve definitely bribed the driver to stop at such sites where the moon got reflected..

"thenmadurai vaigai nadhi
dhinam paadum thamizh paattu
thaeygindradhu
thaeygindradhu pon maalai nila.."


My mind went back in time.. back to the winter of 93 when I first passed thro the same road. It was a narrow double lane then, barren on both sides with occasional trees, dried up river and canals. It seemed like a desert then and I closed my eyes, to shut off the emptiness. But, as the Banglore trips increased after 99, I had noted the changes that came thro the area each time I passed thro, I could see that Canals were dug up, streams were formed, the barren landscape made way for occasional trees and other shrubs..and today, it looked like an agricultural land with canals criss crossing and the Vaigai river in its glory and the the narrow double lane road has been transformed into wide NH 7. Now, think of situation on Kerala, it would be just the opposite..

What remained unchanged was that unending rail track which cut across below the road and then went on and on into infinity. The moon light was lighting up the track and once again, I saw a train, which I presume to be the Vaigai Express steaming down.. What surprised me was the transformation of Dindigal. Building construction was goin on everywhere and all those half baked structures had an eerie appearance in the moon light.

The journey went on and on..and i dozed off again, and as I woke up, we had left Salem and nearing Thoppur.

Thoppur -Dharmapuri -Krishnagiri

"Malai oram veesum kaathu
Manasodu paadum pattu kekudhaa kekudhaa.."


Thoppur was the beginning of the ghat section and the ghats continued for more than 70 Km. I’ve heard that Thoppur is also the diversion point to reach Mettur, a place which is said to be having all year farming with the Bhavani River feeding it. I was also told that the song “Entha Poovilum Vasamundu” from the film ‘Murattu kalai’ was shot entirely at Thoppur on the same area through which the NH passes now.

The entire Thoppur- Dharmapuri stretch ran beneath the mountains and midst the vast farmlands. The farms were in glory on either sides and it was a color riot, even at night with the farms dotting the fluorescent green, yellow and red colors. The moon light illuminated the unpaved country roads dotted by palm trees on either sides and these roads ran into the mountain at times. Else, the roads ran across the farmlands, which I felt would be worth 1000 snaps during day time. Ahhh..this was the real rural tamil nadu for which I’ve been searching for. The coconut leaves swayed in the mild wind and the red& white walls of the temples atop the mountains were illuminated by the moon. The scenery went on forever and ever for almost the entire distance and...

"Mala Kaathu Veesurapothu Malligapoo Paadaathaa
Mazha Megham Koodurapothu Vanna Mayil Aadaathaa
En Maeni Thaenarumbu En Paatu Poonkarumbu.."

I was walking along the fields in thoppur, clicking pics and suddenly, I sensed a change in air..the moon light faded quickly, the air became cool and the leaves started swaying more and more..the sound of the dry leaves quickly rolling thro the ground was all around me and I heard a familiar sound..of something coming in from a distance..This, was the unmistakable sign of the rain lurking around the corner and i was broughtmatic back to sense by the raindrops hitting the window of the bus..Rain..my enigfriend who never lets me catch it, yet, who would come and go off at will leaving behind its trail..and here, rain was at it again, coming from nowhere in the midst of this beautiful journey when I least expected it. I thanked God for this unexpected gift and what a location to make its entry, drenching the fields and farms and soon, the leaves were reflecting the moon light. The rain was the companion for the journey up the wonderful twisty thoppur ghat leading upto Dharmapuri and thereon to Krishnagiri. Krishnagiri was not much different in the landscape, but here, the mango trees were dotting the fields, sometimes, it made a postcard scene to watch a lone mango tree in the midst of the vast field..The mountains were towering over us as we drove on..

The raindrops were rolling down thro the glass and i was pinching myself trying to find if this was a dream run..no, it was the real thing and i dozed off again as the bus moved on from krishnagiri to hosur.

Hosur - Bangalore

I woke up as we were midway through the Hosur-Bangalore NH and found the farmlands interspersed with factories and houses. I felt Hosur as a confused district, confused as to whether it belongs to TN or Karnataka, confused for its identity..It was as if the tradition was battling the encroaching modernity in every aspects..but it made an interesting sight to see the traditional tamilian faces and locations kept cropping around the modern karnataka faces and locations. The bus was gaining more speed as it sensed Bangalore was near..the speedometer needle climbed up and the ‘once used to be garden city’ was nearing as shown by the presence of cranes and ‘take diversion’ boards all along the road. I dozed off a bit and when I woke up, we were passing through the new pride of Bangalore - the elevated corridor and proceeded to Madivala..It was a wonderful experience over 10 Kms..

Madivala - the entry/ exit point of Bangalore city..where newbies get the first glimpse of their dream city. I felt that Madivala also acts like a parting point, where hands are slowly retracted, silent glances tell stories, memories are recollected and tears roll down or happiness returns as the buses leave for their destinations..

Bangalore – Its my second home..love it or hate it, it has got a special place in my heart..Let it be in another section/ outside forum in which I can describe the typical Bangalore life of a Malayali..

Next Monday - leaving to Trivandrum – Bommanahalli - 6pm bus to trivandrum. I was feeling reluctant to leave B’lore..I’ve never felt this restraint over last few visits. But this time I felt the sadness i felt many years before while getting seated into the bus. As the bus stood idle, I got out and looked around..the elevated corridor ran overhead and the NH was streaming with inbound and outbound vehicles. I set my eyes on the inbound tracks, wondering how many newbies would be arriving in those vehicles. I looked at quite a few outbound vehicles and wondered where they were going to..I looked at my watch, it was just 30mts drive back to brother’s apartment..A thought went thru my mind as to cancel my trip and go back..

The sun was setting on the other side of the road and soon the new elevated corridor turned a silhouette. When next? I asked myself. why did I make this trip? i asked myself again. The answer lay within me, in the form of a bug that had bit me few weeks back..it was the cute lil travel bug who pesters me once a while and this time, her pestering was so much..I had decided on this trip to get rid of the bug and as the trip was winding down, she was hiding somewhere. I searched around for her and caught her eyes..I asked her what she has got me into..she didnt reply..she kept looking back at me.

Should I finish her off for once and forever? I asked myself. I decided to toss..Finish her off if it is Tails and Let her continue bugging me if it is Heads. The coin went up and came back. The moment I looked at the coin, I could see the bugs face lighting up. I was about to place back the coin and just then, i flipped the coin to find out that it had 2 Heads..I knew who placed the tossing coin..The bug slowly walked up my arms and bit me..I gave a slap, she bit me again, i slapped again...after few slaps, i found that my slaps were getting weak..I had the realization that it was not worth trying to keep out the bug..It was a slow seduction...her bites were giving me urges..a new urge to explore and experience the world.

I looked at the elevated corridor and the highway..but my mind had images of nature. Concrete jungles or open fields? where do i need to be? I look in the eyes of the bug, and thro her eyes, i could see the images of the nature..and there I was, seated in my customary seat 19, passing thro the plains & farm lands again, lit by the moon light.

I could see myself to be back to open nature pretty soon- europe & north america beckons..But before all that, we plan to drive to B’lore in my car..a day journey with stopovers and diversions to the rural tamilnadu villages, loaded with camera. And that day is nearing soon..

Some pics from my earlier trip to Thirunelveli

Open sky, light drizzle,wide road..a driver's delight



for a short break..



here i come..

Last edited by Mysticeyes : 4th June 2010 at 11:15.
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Old 4th June 2010, 11:22   #2
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Wow, I lived in Suchindrum near Nagerkoil and studied in Madurai. And I have taken this road Nagerkoil-Madurai road so many times. The winding roads up to Aralvaimozhi, concreted by the Travancore Maharaja all the way, was one of the best roads even as early as late 70's and early 80's.
Entire Kanyamukari district, for that matter, is completely different place, compared to rest of Tamil Nadu. I love KK district.
Looking forward to loads of pictures mate.
And your narration, sprinkled with those days' songs - man, you have taken me on time machine back by couple of decades.
Catch that ->
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Old 4th June 2010, 12:16   #3
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nice write up.
the journey from Trivandrum to Nagercoil is even better to the eyes
by train, particularly by the 2nd class non-AC compartment.
put on your headphones and it's abslolute green bliss..

so you were in Rajas college during 97'
me too have visited the college 3 or 4 tmes during the same year.
My friends were studying 4th year in the same campus, but in engineering.

PS: do add more photos..

Last edited by Daewood : 4th June 2010 at 12:18.
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Old 4th June 2010, 12:49   #4
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Nice write up..
O.T Any BHPians from Rajas College first batch of Engineering
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Old 4th June 2010, 13:03   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RajaTaurus View Post
Wow, I lived in Suchindrum near Nagerkoil and studied in Madurai. And I have taken this road Nagerkoil-Madurai road so many times. The winding roads up to Aralvaimozhi, concreted by the Travancore Maharaja all the way, was one of the best roads even as early as late 70's and early 80's.
Entire Kanyamukari district, for that matter, is completely different place, compared to rest of Tamil Nadu. I love KK district.
Looking forward to loads of pictures mate.
And your narration, sprinkled with those days' songs - man, you have taken me on time machine back by couple of decades.
Catch that ->
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daewood View Post
nice write up.
the journey from Trivandrum to Nagercoil is even better to the eyes
by train, particularly by the 2nd class non-AC compartment.
put on your headphones and it's abslolute green bliss..


PS: do add more photos..

I don't know what the magic behind the attraction to tamilnadu. may be its the colorful life, the larger than life images, the greenery, rural life..In kerala, all of this seems to be disappearing fast. We are now pseudo-culturalists.

You can and should change with time, but not at the cost of discarding heritage and culture..thats whats happening here, But on my trips through TN, I've found that traditions are still traditions and taken care of..thats the beauty of simple life. and the tamil songs of yesteryears seems to be rooted in cultures and values and places.

uploading some more pics

wish this could be the scene when my window opens every morning (near nagercoil)


and miles to go..


before the storm
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Old 4th June 2010, 13:21   #6
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[/QUOTE=Mysticeyes;1920736] wish this could be the scene when my window opens every morning (near nagercoil) [/quote]

Excellent snap, +1 would love to see this scene every day morning. Did you take that while moving in the Bus ?

[/quote] [i]“ Ringggg ringgg..
Boss: hellooo..(in a tone which meant “oh nooo…not again, I’m suffering him from 9-6, then why now????”)
Me: G’M’ng boss, errrrr…I would be thankful if you can let me take leave for few days for an urgent B’lore trip.
(Doesn’t a hungry wolf like to hear the cry of a lone lamb/sheep? I would love to have seen his expressions when I asked for the leave)
Boss: (Am I dreaming????nahhh…I’m awake) Yessss..Approved (Phewww..the more leaves he avail, the more settled I can be in Office)
Boss: How are you going?
Me: By Bus
[/quote]

Hope your boss is not a team-bhpian
How about the fabia there, is that yours ?

Last edited by ranjith.rajaram : 4th June 2010 at 13:24.
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Old 4th June 2010, 13:36   #7
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Excellent travelogue, Mysticeyes. Took me back in time when I used to work in Bangalore. My first means of travel were the TN RTC buses from Trivandrum to Bangalore as they were quite cheap compared to Volvo buses (I had just started out in B'lore in those times in a small job & the pay could not afford the Volvo). Then later a shift to good job meant mode of travel changed to Volvo. But usually used to take the Ekm route. Your writing took me back to those times. Thanks!
PS: You are in Tvm. Let's meet up, if possible.
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Old 4th June 2010, 13:49   #8
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Originally Posted by ranjith.rajaram View Post
[/QUOTE=Mysticeyes;1920736] wish this could be the scene when my window opens every morning (near nagercoil)
Excellent snap, +1 would love to see this scene every day morning. Did you take that while moving in the Bus ?
Hope your boss is not a team-bhpian
How about the fabia there, is that yours ?
[/quote]

That pic was taken during a stopover during a car drive..its my favorite spot in the trivandrum-nagercoil route..the pic of fabia in the 1st post was taken at same spot (in november). the pic in my 2nd post was taken at the same spot (in october). my boss a TBHP-ian??? he still thinks that Ford is a subsidiary of GM. ofcourse, thats my fabia buddy

heres another pic of same spot


Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutty Nair View Post
Excellent travelogue, Mysticeyes. Took me back in time when I used to work in Bangalore. My first means of travel were the TN RTC buses from Trivandrum to Bangalore as they were quite cheap compared to Volvo buses (I had just started out in B'lore in those times in a small job & the pay could not afford the Volvo). Then later a shift to good job meant mode of travel changed to Volvo. But usually used to take the Ekm route. Your writing took me back to those times. Thanks!
PS: You are in Tvm. Let's meet up, if possible.
there are couple of active tvm-bhpians..sure, lets meet up sometime soon.so where are you settled down now? I used to take the nagercoil route to b'lore (usually in the 2pm KPN)..then i changed to Shamas B'lore buses (via EKM). But now, I'm fed up of the Kerala roads and the concrete strucutres by road side and hence back to 6pm KPN via Nagercoil

Here's a pic of the 'cattle class' NH inside Kerala..do you want to drive through these?? An early morning scene from the Trivandrum-Kanyakumari NH 47..


Last edited by Mysticeyes : 4th June 2010 at 13:56.
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Old 4th June 2010, 14:03   #9
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there are couple of active tvm-bhpians..sure, lets meet up sometime soon.so where are you settled down now?
And I thought I was one of them! At present I'm settled in Tvm (near Ayurveda College).
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Old 4th June 2010, 14:05   #10
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[b] my boss a TBHP-ian??? he still thinks that Ford is a subsidiary of GM.
Hahaha.. that was a cracker mate.
Keep it coming. This Chennai scorching heat needs some picture like that Plantain trees, at least to cool down our eyes and brains. Post more. We are all eyes.
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Old 4th June 2010, 14:27   #11
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Originally Posted by Mysticeyes View Post
That pic was taken during a stopover during a car drive..its my favorite spot in the trivandrum-nagercoil route..the pic of fabia in the 1st post was taken at same spot (in november). the pic in my 2nd post was taken at the same spot (in october).
me too had a favourite spot on the same route. it is a few kms before touching nagercoil. it looks very similar to yours..
mine was near to nice highway drive-in snack joint. but heard its closed now. the name of the place, i forgot..it was something like 'picnic'

once we were driving through the same route while it was drizzling
and my friends made me to stop the car for good 45 minutes and we did nothing except admire the greenery and multiple cups of chai..
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Old 4th June 2010, 14:50   #12
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Originally Posted by Mysticeyes View Post
heres another pic of same spot
Oh Boy this picture is heaven, magnificent greenery....
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Old 4th June 2010, 15:11   #13
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Hahaha.. that was a cracker mate.
Keep it coming. This Chennai scorching heat needs some picture like that Plantain trees, at least to cool down our eyes and brains. Post more. We are all eyes.
so you need more banana trees? here it comes..but next gen bananas

somewhere around kuzhithurai-thengapattanam


'tree lined avenue'


@120kmph
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Old 4th June 2010, 15:20   #14
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See that second picture with coconut trees laced highway. Out of the world view there. Lovely rain shot as well. Keep it coming.
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Old 4th June 2010, 15:51   #15
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While I was going thru this log, 'Windy town' was playing in my backgroun(thanks for remnding me of such a beautiful song). I had a nice trip ..keep 'em coming !
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