We made it!

We made it!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 13 Walk from Mandya to Maddur

Last night was a little unsettled between bright lights shining into our room, to a wayward mosquito net to Gus waking to go to the toilet and again asking for a cup tea we had a somewhat unsettled sleep. Maggie and Indy are in the room with Nicola and Eibh again and went to their rooms to watch twilight on the laptop. I think Nicola lasted 10 minutes and Maggie lasted about 15. We woke this morning at just before 7am and given we had committed to a 7am breakfast to get an early start it was straight into preparations. The walk team today is Poppa, Eibhlin, Indy, Bec and myself. Nanna and Nicola have generously agreed to be on Gus duty to allow Bec a valuable and cherished walk opportunity. When we left to go down to breakfast this morning Maggie was still fast asleep, she had a big day yesterday.

We were the first to line up for breakfast and most of us decided to go for the simple omelette and bread although nanna and poppa went for something Indian to go with their coffee. Interestingly this morning the omelette came out wrapped around the bread, something we had not encountered before. We also had a glass of fresh pineapple juice to wash it all down. The highlight this morning was the ability to be able to start our walk direct from the hotel, something we haven’t yet had the opportunity to do. So the walk team said our goodbyes and were given a warm send off from the support crew.

Today we were determined to spend more time away from the main road and from the start walked away from the main road and onto a small road that ran down the railway line. Google maps revealed last night that as long as we had the main road on the right and the rail line on the left we should be fine. Immediately this morning we felt the benefit and beauty of walking along a small country road past all of the farmers out doing their chores and the families washing by the river or preparing their breakfasts or fetching their water. Only the occasional vehicle going by, it was like heaven compared to previous days walking along the main road. It is Sunday morning and people are out everywhere working hard and we can see the busyness of Indian life once again.

After a while we came across a small township and as we walked down we seemed to walk through the butchers quarters. Every second shop had a carcass of some description hanging in it, it sounds quite disgusting but wasn’t really that bad. Eibh reckoned it smelled like her dad’s cowyard in the main street. Everyone was again extremely friendly with a seemingly constantly flow of ‘Hi’ ‘How are you’ ‘Fine’ ‘Where are you from’ ‘Australia’. Everyone is very welcoming and the kids think that we are very funny all walking by in our get up. After the butcher’s courtyard I spot an Indian Barber and gesture to the group it is time. Since day 1 I have been wanting to get a very short haircut, something I have never done before and this is the ideal opportunity. The kids have been against it from the start, but it was now time. Popsy wanted to have a trim also, he is currently at a number 2 and went back to his near bald state. The barber shop consisted of 2 chairs crammed into a small yellow room. One chair was occupied by a gentleman getting a shave so Popsy took the other chair. Eibh and Bec were on filming duty as the procedure commenced. As you can imagine we were starting to draw quite a crowd of interested onlookers all keen to see what this crazy group was up to now. Sunday morning in a small country town and there was a quiet buzz in the relaxed morning air. Popsy received his hair cut with the clippers back to near bald and before finishing the barber gave him a coating of baby powder which had him smelling and looking clean like a babys bum!

Then it was my turn. Indy had one last run of her fingers through my hair and had an obvious trepidation about what I was about to do. Into the chair and I asked for a number 2 with the clippers hoping that meant something to my friendly barber. He applied something to his clippers and we were away. Unfortunately the power cord plug kept slipping out of the wall so the clippers kept stopping and every time they did they pulled a small clump of hair with them, no harm done. In the end the barber called in for reinforcements and someone to hold the plug in the wall. The back was clipped and at that point left a nice little birds nest on top. I wondered what would happen at this stage if the clippers died. Meanwhile the girls were all having a great laugh watching the procedure unfold. The gentleman next to me had finished his shave and was moving on to having his sideburns blackened with a tooth brush! A few minutes later and I was a new man, or at least I had a new head, complete with a baby’s powder once over. Indy was in shock, but Bec said she liked it. We paid our $2 total for the two cuts, had photos with our barbers and thanked them for their wonderful service. Arturo Taverna had nothing on these guys.

We were back on the walk. Indy with her great affection for Eibhlin continues to talk in her aussie / Irish accent which is a little hard to get used to but fun at the same time. We continued through the town and out the other side past the Mysore sugar factory, which according to the locals is a major attraction. Popsy recalled seeing the sign suggesting that Mandya was the sugar city. The factory was really quite impressive, but we decided not to enter for a tour and walked past continuing with our journey. We walked past a river where the trucks were being backed into to wheel deep water for their Sunday wash. Bec stopped for her first bush wee of the trip and whilst chaperoning her Eibh stood on a prickle bush and we spent some time pulling these centimetre long thorns out of Eibh’s shoes. Very nasty and very lucky no damage done.

As we continued on the road disappeared and we initially walked along a narrowing dirt path with sugar cane and other crops all around as we made our way along following the railway line. The peace and quiet was just lovely after days of screeching bus and truck horns that tormented us. After some time the path disappeared and we were told to cross the tracks and walk up the other side. Not so much a track but a grassed area alongside the tracks. From behind us two wagons each with two oxen were coming up. We stepped aside and let them pass, Indy hoping for a ride, that is until we saw their load was a wagon full of manure. So here we were in rural India following two oxen led wagons full of Manure to a town called Maddur. Up ahead the men in the wagons told us to go back up to the tracks as the path had ended. So we walked for some time along the railway tracks, fortunately no trains coming. A little while up the tracks we saw that a grassy path had opened up and we decided it a better option than the tracks. Bec warned everyone to stay vigilant and gave us all a run down in the event of a snake bite what we should do. At this time I was looking for a staff to walk along with and I was walking along leaning in toward the side of the path seeing what I could find. We had been walking for a few hours by this stage so I wasn’t as sharp as perhaps I should have been. As I looked down I saw what could have been a reasonably large part of a stick. I was looking at it and just before my brain worked out it was not a stick it started moving. I was leading the group and jumped about six feet in the air backwards, Eibhlin let out we think a profanity and Popsy just started yelling “What is it?” What is it?” Sure enough the stick was indeed a snake and we had our first reptilian encounter. The best kind, a warning but no contact, it disappeared as fast as we saw it. All of our hearts were beating pretty fast at this point and our eyes were certainly taking notice of the grass ahead.

We had out stop for a piece of Lyons fruit cake packed by nanna before continuing our journey. We had made our way through another small town, but this time was a little way from the main road. We ended up walking through some housing and at one point Eibh commented it feels like we are walking into someone’s backyard. Bec started questioning my navigation skills, to which it could be argued she had pretty good evidence. From the houses we saw a small path leading through the fields and noticed a motorbike heading along the path in front of us and assumed it would be fine. We could see the main road only a couple of hundred metres from where we were so assumed it would be okay. We walked past a small house with a couple of women and several children who came out to say hello. In the front of the house it looked like there were three colourful tombstones in the front yard. The further we walked the smaller the path became and we eventually ran out of path. A young lady walking her cow gestured to us to walk along the paddy fields to our right, which we could see the main road was not far away. So we had a quick team pow wow and decided to risk it. The initial part of the walk was fine along the side of the paddy fields but then we noticed there was a large crop of sugar cane with a small half metre wide gap for us to walk through. We looked back and the lady was still gesturing us on. There was now about a 50 metre stretch, which we affectionately named snake alley. Given our encounter only an hour before we all nervously proceeded along the narrow path. As a group we decided given my obvious snake experience I would go first, followed by Eibh, with Indy squeezed in between Eibh and Bec with Popsy bringing up the rear. The anxiety of the group was palpable so Popsy started up with an old favourite family song “Tintanara kicks forward, forward, forward, Tintanara kicks forward” and we all joined in which helped take our minds off the snake alley of death.

Before we knew it we were out the other side and popped out next to the service station on the main road. We stopped there to have a quick toilet stop and vegemite sandwiches. Indy wasn’t impressed with the toilet, Eibh added that “the toilet paper was too good for that toilet”. Not our most glamorous spot to stop for lunch but we all needed a short breather after traversing snake alley. Being back on the main road we then decided reluctantly to stay on the main road to finish off our walk. We pushed out the last 10kms in good time and after the usual stop for cokes and chips we saw the sign ‘Welcome to Maddur’. We stop for our team celebrations and team photos by the sign and as if on cue Raju and the tempo traveller pulls up to pick us up. As we travel back to the hotel, Eibh speaking to Fletch her husband talking him through his first ever online Bpay payment – this trip is taking everyone out of their comfort zones, the wonders of technology. On our drive back to the hotel, reflecting on our near 25km walk today we commented on what a great day we had all had, a day that had everything.

No comments:

Post a Comment