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Old 1st August 2010, 12:04   #91
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@ Safedrive : Excellent narration, beautiful descriptions to bring us your experience . I have been following this since your first post. It does make us feel that you enjoyed every single moment of this holiday. Thekkady is indeed a nice place to go !.
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Old 1st August 2010, 12:26   #92
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Smile Thekkady - Day 3, part IV

We walk into the Kathakali theatre and the artists are still not fully dressed. The male character is on stage completing his costume.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0379.jpg


Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0380.jpg
^^ The headdress is still missing^^

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0382.jpg

By the time he's got his full costume on, he wieghs an additional 40 kilograms!!

Our seats are in the first row and we are provided with a page containing the story to be staged today. The story is Narakasuravadham and is as follows:

The demon king, Narakasura, sends Nakrathundi to capture women from ‘devaloka.’ On her way, Nakrathundi meets and falls in love with the handsome Jayanthan, son of Indra. Nakrathundi transforms herself into the beautiful Lalitha and tries in vain to seduce Jayanthan. When Nakrathundi reveals her true self Jayanthan mutilates her. To avenge her humiliation at the hands of Jayathan, Narakasura fights with Indra and eventually the demon gets killed by Lord Krishna.

The part that is to be staged today is of Nakrathundi falling in love with Jayanthan and trying to seduce him. Well let’s wait and see. The male returns to the room behind to finish his costume and soon the female character comes on stage. She (or should I be saying he) is followed by an announcer and the show starts. The first few minutes are spent in showing us some of the different expressions and enactments. There are multiple ways of conveying the same enactment. For example to enact “come here” can be done in four different ways depending on the circumstances. We were displayed this. We were also shown some of the expressions and their meanings.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0383.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0387.jpg
^^Notice the eyes^^

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0390.jpg
^^The facial expression^^

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0392.jpg


Kathakali is a combination of five elements of fine art namely expression, dance, enactment, vocal and instrument. The stroy is told by using all five together.

If there are any Kathakali experts in this forum, please help out.


The play soon started. I was trying hard to follow it by seeing if I could understand it by the short lessons given earlier but I was soon lost. It was only expected, how could a few minutes of “Kathakali for dummies” make up for six years of training? It was a good thing that they had provided the story beforehand or we would have totally been at sea. Some pictures from the play.


Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0394.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0396.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0397.jpg
^^ Notice the position of the feet. This is the position when they sit down (on a stool). At times one foot was kept on top of the other in the same way!!^^

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0395.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0398.jpg
^^ A truly majestic pose^^


After the show we made our way to Kumali junction which was only a few meters away. Went to Malabar Hotel and had parotta and meat. Ahhh, for the simple pleasures of life. We caught an auto back to club Mahindra a very satisfied family. But somewhere in the back of my head was the thought that this was our last day at Thekkady. Oh well all good things must come to an end. Tomorrow we would start back to Chennai to get back to the “real” world – the one that people say are lived by rats. But not before we have a stop at Madurai. Good night every one.
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Old 1st August 2010, 18:11   #93
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Its really good of you to expose your kid to our cultures.

The extremity:
A kid in US was asked, where do you get milk from?
Prompt came the reply: Carton!

Hope it does not come to that for our next generation.
Very important to expose them to the grass roots.
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Old 1st August 2010, 21:27   #94
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Very nice pics. Really liked the makeup. No wonder it took hours. But its pretty difficult to do on own.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
The extremity:
A kid in US was asked, where do you get milk from?
Prompt came the reply: Carton!
. Good one.

Rated 5*.

Last edited by TaureanBull : 1st August 2010 at 21:30.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 11:53   #95
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@ TaureanBull - Thanks for the rating.
@ampere - I try. And what you've quoted is funny.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 15:08   #96
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SafeDrive. Really enjoyed your writing. It is a good read even without the pictures. I had actually skipped this travelogue all these days, since it was about Thekkady. The way you put across your thoughts are refreshing.

-Biju
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Old 2nd August 2010, 16:09   #97
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Unhappy Thekkady - Day 4, part I

Susann and I wake up at around 06:00 and just lie still in bed for some time. We know that this is the last few hours that we have here. It’s been great but the feeling of leaving still weighs heavily in our minds. Go about our usual routine for the morning. When I return from the gym, she has breakfast all ready. We’re having bread and eggs, primarily because I was still pissed off with Club Mahindra for what it did to the Ada Pradhaman.

Some time on Friday we had made a reservation with the travel desk for a car to Madurai. We had also requested CM for a late check out and the conversation went something like this.

Me: “Hi, can we have a late check out tomorrow?”
Receptionist: “Sure sir, no problem”
M: “Thank you. We’ll be checking out at around 02:00 p.m.”
R: “Errrr.., sir normal check out is at 10:00 a.m.”
M: “I know. My train is only in at night which is why I was requesting a late check out.”
R: “But sir..Errr….”

It was very evident that he was having trouble conveying to me that 02:00 p.m. was too late.

M: “Ok, I understand. How about at 12:00 p.m.”
R: “We need to get the room cleaned for the other guests sir.”
M: “What about 11:00?”
R: Brightening up “No problem sir."

And so it was that I was to leave at 11:00 that day. But then what do I do after that? The person at the travel desk suggested visiting Surli falls on the way and also seeing Meenakshi Amman temple at Madurai. And so it was settled – start from Thekkady at 11:00, go to Surli and then from there to Madurai, see the temple and then back to the station. Extra charges for cab, Rs.750 – not a bad deal.

We were all ready by 10:30 and I and Calvin had gone to the reception to settle our bills and say our goodbyes. We were joined by Susann soon and were all set to leave. We were given an Indigo this time. It had been raining heavily since the morning and there were no signs of a let up. We go in and the journey back began. At Kumali junction, I asked our driver to stop for some tea and he obliged by stopping at a bakery. Had tea and a meat puff (the puff was fantastic). As soon as we crossed the check post at the Kerala border, the rain stopped and the sun came out. I think this is what is called the rain shadow region. On the way down the ghat we stopped to get some pictures taken.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0399.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0400.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0401.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0402.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0404.jpg
^^ Mother and son^^

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0409.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0407.jpg
^^ Another father son moment^^

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0412.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0414.jpg

The pipes shown in the last two pictures are the ones that bring water from the Mullaperiyar Dam to Tamil Nadu. This is the dam that is one of the bones of contention between TN and KL. The reservoir created by this dam is the place that we go boating in Thekkady. KL says that the 110 year old dam is unsafe and has to be rebuilt while TN says that the hieght of the dam has to be raised for supplying more water.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0415.jpg
^^ The road after you've just descended from the ghats is a very straight one for a long stretch. I wanted her to sit on the road for the picture. I am not at liberty to state the conversation that followed as I value my health. However this is what we finally compromised on ^^

Last edited by SafeDrive : 2nd August 2010 at 16:13.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 16:19   #98
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The compromise seems good. Had you made her stand slightly to the right of the median, we'd have got the complete road behind her!
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Old 2nd August 2010, 16:19   #99
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Why has the posts stopped.

This is amongst the best story-telling that I have read on the site and suddenly seeing it stop for the last 2 days, F5 button is bearing the brunt.

P.S: I understand Monday blues but still please do take-out the time to finish the travelogue.

P.P.S: Rated 5 stars
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Old 2nd August 2010, 17:54   #100
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
The compromise seems good. Had you made her stand slightly to the right of the median, we'd have got the complete road behind her!
You're right MX6. Will keep this in mind. Boy, you must be an ACE in photography.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
Why has the posts stopped.

This is amongst the best story-telling that I have read on the site and suddenly seeing it stop for the last 2 days, F5 button is bearing the brunt.

P.S: I understand Monday blues but still please do take-out the time to finish the travelogue.

P.P.S: Rated 5 stars
Thank you for your kind words. If it is any solace then this is what happened. I wanted to post on Saturday but a close friend of mine persuaded me to go and have a look at some plots at Guduvancherry. So I went along with him and while there, the person there said that the road connects to OMR. Now that put a new perspective to things and we decided to check it out. Let's just suffice to say that in our quest to get back home via OMR we saw a board that said "Reserve forest", we saw some monkeys on the road, we saw no concrete - just green, we received around 5 calls each from my wife and his before we hit OMR . And this was another 25km from where we stay. It was an experience but I lost the time for the posts.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 18:41   #101
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Thumbs down Thekkady - Day 3, part II

We soon reach Base Camp (yes that is the name of the place) and we have to take a deviation from here. Our driver is not quite sure on the route and so he stops to get directions – yes men do ask directions. We’ve got to take a left from the petrol pump a few meters back and then head straight. After we take the turn, the road deteriorates. It’s become narrow with no line markings and it’s also become rough. There are some big pot holes too. I am reminded of the roads back home in Kerala and as if on cue the weather also decides to play it’s part on this – it starts to rain.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0418.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0419.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0420.jpg


We are surrounded by farms on both sides of the road, some growing coconuts, some bananas, some grapes and other fruits. I remember seeing mango and chickoo trees. The road is pretty deserted and just stretches on. Our driver keeps stopping to ask for directions whenever he sees anybody. Not that the directions change – they are the same, just keep going straight. At one such place he asked a group of women waiting for a bus on the road. They gave the direction and then got up saying that they were also going that side and wanted a lift. He got a little worried, told them that he already had folks inside and then just went.

A few kilometers down we reach the end of the road – a T junction. Over here we see a board which shows Surli falls to the left and Cumbam to the right. We turn and the road is a lot better. We will be going back this way directly to Cumbam, no Base Camp for us. The scenery is still the same except that we now have a view of some mountains too. Garbage also rears its ugly head along the route.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0423.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0425.jpg
^^ Warding off the evil eye ^^

A little later we are stopped by some people on the road who collect a toll from us. “How far to Surli sir?” “About a kilometer.” A few hundred meters from there and the other side of tourism rears its head. There are vehicles parked all along the way in haphazard manner, there is garbage everywhere, there are people peeing on the streets, jay walking etc. This is a far departure from what Thekkady was – quite and clean. This place is milling with people, there’s a lot of noise, there are people cooking on the roadside, there are people eating on the sides but irrespective of whatever it is they are doing there is one thing in common – they all leave their garbage behind. This is a real turn off. We reach the end of the road and it looks like we will have to trek for the rest of the way. None of us are in the mood to do so but we still alight. Just as we do that it starts to rain and we use that excuse to get away from there. Surli was a bad experience. The importance given to tourism by the Governments in KL and TN becomes more evident from this incident.

The drive back to Cumbam though is enjoyable. The fruit farms give way to paddy fields. They’re not grown yet but still have a hue of green.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0427.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0428.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0429.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0445.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0448.jpg

The roads after some time go back to the old condition but they are still a pleasure to travel on. They’ve got their curves and their scenery, what more could you want?

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0431.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0440.jpg
^^ I was forced to put this. She wanted my pictures also in this blog. I'm generally photo shy^^

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0441.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0444.jpg


We reach Cumbam and it’s starting to get hot. So I request the driver to put on the AC. He does so but immediately stops by the side saying he has to make a phone call. I get out of the car to stretch my legs and once more I see the other side – I’m reminded again of reality as it is in the cities.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0453.jpg

The driver is on the phone for a short while and although he is at a distance I can make out some words. And then it hits me – he’s checking up with the office on whether I’ve booked an AC cab or ordinary!!

We soon continue our journey toward Madurai and the sights begin to change. The hills are but a distant vision on the horizon becoming smaller with each passing minute.

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0456.jpg

Thekkady Vacation - Four days, three nights, two places, one family-dsc_0454.jpg

We will be at Madurai in a couple of hours.
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Old 2nd August 2010, 20:54   #102
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Lovely travelog, you sure have a way with words. Read it all in 1 go as I was free for an hour.
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Old 3rd August 2010, 09:15   #103
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Quote:
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Lovely travelog, you sure have a way with words. Read it all in 1 go as I was free for an hour.
Thankyou rrahul_2778
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Old 3rd August 2010, 12:13   #104
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Post Thekkady - Day 4, part III

Let me start with an apology. I’m sorry I have no pictures for this post. It’s not even a travelogue. It’s a conversation that I had with our driver and I found it interesting.



On our way back from Surli, Calvin who until then was sitting at the front decides to move to the back seat to be with his mom. So I take the seat passenger seat next to the driver. As the journey progresses mom and son fall asleep and I am bored. So I get talking to the driver.


“Are you from Thekkady?” “Yes Sir.” He’s been there all his life – born and brought up there. He’s studied up to his +2 before becoming a driver. So why did he choose the career – “there were no other options available sir.” “Do you get a lot of tourists in this region?” “Yes sir, during season the place is full.” “And many foreigners too?” “Yes sir.” “So, how do you converse with them?” “I know English and Hindi sir.” He studied in a Malayalam medium school but had to pick up English because of necessity. As for Hindi, his first job as a driver was at Delhi. He has a relative who is a cop in Delhi and he fixed him up with a ‘travels’ owned by a Mallu in Delhi. From here he moved to another company before coming home to Thekkady. He owns the Indigo. It’s a relatively new Indigo with less than 10K on the odometer. He owned an Indica before that which had been used for around 3 lakh k.m!! Don’t ask me how or why? Obviously when it came the time to sell and buy a new car no one would touch his Indica, well no one except for TATA that is. So he upgraded to an Indigo and will probably remain a loyal TATA customer for life.


“Are there many taxis in Thekkady?” The way he answered this was a little differently. While I expected him to either say a yes or no, he went on as follows:


Almost all the taxi owners / drivers in Thekkady have joined together and formed a sort of society. Except for a handful everyone else is a member there. The handful if I remember right is eight people. The society currently consists of 65 people. You have to be a local of Thekkady if you want to join, outsiders are not encouraged. They have a president, secretary etc and also quite a few political party workers from all sides. However when it comes to the society, politics of affiliation to one party or ideology is put to the side and they all function for the betterment of the unit. This I found to be strange, in fact hard to believe especially in a place like Kerala. The society has been functioning for two years now and they have a tie up with a few hotels like Club Mahindra which give them bookings. They’re planning to take this over in the majority of the hotels in Thekkady from next year. Given that the cars that I’ve seen are very clean and the drivers very courteous, I do hope that they succeed.

“So, how about the other hotels?” They seem to have a list of preferred cabs which they call when a booking is made there. These cabs can be a part of the society or from outside. He does not seem to get many calls of these kinds and seems to rely more on the society. As per him, the charges that these hotels charge is enormous and a good part of this has to be paid by the driver to the hotel as commission. It’s not very lucrative that way. As for his bookings from the society, he gets to keep all the money that he gets the only condition being that he has to pay the society a certain amount every quarter for the running of it. This does not come to much and so he makes more. In the hotels where the society has the travel desk, the lady manning it is also in their employment. They have an office at Ambadi junction and if you consider the other infrastructure that is required for this, I guess it is a good bargain. The taxi stand at Ambadi junction is also controlled by them.

The society currently charges below the government prescribed rate. I think he said that the government rate is Rs.16 and that they are charging only Rs.14. I did a quick Google and found a site that offered an AC Indica at Rs.1300 for the first 150 k.m. and at Rs.9 for every extra kilometer. Considering that Madurai is around 140 km from Thekkady, my fare of Rs.2300 (exclusive of the additional) comes to Rs.16.42 per kilometer. If you consider that he has to return back, then the fare is only Rs.8.21 per kilometer which I found to be very reasonable. A cab from the site would have cost me Rs.2470 (considering 140 km), plus Rs.100 as driver’s bata plus any additional for inter-state travel. So I guess overall it is a good package. “So why do you go below the Government rates?” The locals already consider it to be high and the society is trying to get the billing rate up to the Government prescribed rates.

“So how many trips do you get?” Off seasons times he might get around a trip a day, sometimes less say something like 5 for a week. Most of his running is between airports, railway stations and Thekkady. This I guess is quite understandable. He also does quite a few trips to other tourist destinations. For example Munnar to Thekkady is pretty common. During the peak season they also get trips to Kovalam, Kanyakumari etc. During this time the car does multiple trips a day. “So, when do you rest?” During peak season, there would be two drivers to a car if required. For example he might drive someone to Kanyakumari and then return back to Thekkady driving at night. The next morning another driver would take the car on its next trip while he rests - a nice set up. So the car gets no rest while the driver gets some sleep. During the season time he claims that a vehicle can do anywhere between 1.5 lakh to 2 lakh kilometers. “What about maintenance?” Well being a hilly terrain the tires wear out pretty fast. He says that the tires on the Indica wore out at around 20k k.m. They have it rethreaded and then push it for another 10k if they are lucky. All the vehicles in the society have to have their papers in good condition and should also be well maintained and clean. There are inspections done!!



“What kind of cars do you have as taxis?” There obviously are the regular battalion of the Indicas, Indigos and Innovas. They also have Logans and Scorpios from the M&M stable. There is a Santro and a couple of Accents and Vernas. And let’s not forget the Amby. There is not much demand from the locals for the Amby but some foreigners ask specifically for it. “And of all these, which do you think is the best?” “That sir, has to be the ……………”

Go on t-bhpians – fill in the blanks.
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Old 3rd August 2010, 17:31   #105
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Just got to love your writing style, safedrive. It was very engrossing and I felt( almost) that I visited Thekkady. Thank you for sparing the time to pen this down.
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