We made it!

We made it!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 27 –Walk from Venkatagirikota to Peranampattu (actually KV Kuppam to near Peranampattu)

We awoke a little slowly today but up and ready for walking quite early. Bad news from our neighbours was that both Poppa and Maxy had a tough night and were both feeling unwell. Poor little Maxy had his first encounter with Delhi Belly and a definite no show for today, Kate would be looking after him, Mum had a flu, Popsy decided against advice from the team nurse to try to walk. The walk team consisted of Poppa, Indy, Ally, Maggie and myself. Advice from our driver Raju was the road from Venkatagirikota was not a safe road, not quite sure what this meant but we decided to walk from RUHSA toward Pernampattu and see how far we could get. It unfortunately meant we were walking backwards but is was the easiest way to go all things considered. Omelletes and coffees were on the menu for breakfast and enjoyed by all who were present.

The team started the walk for a few kilometres before Poppa and the girls thought it would be a good idea to retire early and catch an auto back to home base. Indy and I continued on up the road determined to see if we could push out close to 30km today. It was actually the first day just Indy and I had walked together and it was lovely for us to have this time together. The usual stops for water and Lays chips along the way. We made it the first 15km to Gudiyatham a thriving dusty metropolis of a town with small dusty roads that winded through the town. We decided to press on and though a difficult walk through the town made it out the other end. We were trying to find tea bags without luck, noone seems to have a need for tea bags in India. Indy as we walked through the streets commented “India is organised Chaos” which it really is. Everything has a purpose and a way of happening and everyone seems to understand this but us. We just observe in awe at the way life happens here appearing chaotic but with a definite order to it.

Out the other side of the town we experienced our first Indian altercation, not with us but between what appeared to be one or two families. An older man with a few cows, an older lade pushing him around and some younger women who were yelling at the man who was also doing a fair bit of yelling and stick waving in return. In true Indian fashion as we walked past the younger girls still stopped for a ‘Hi’ as we walked through the yelling and stick waving and we continued on our way. It was clearly hotter here than we had experienced since Kerala with temperatures pushing above 30 degrees again. How we longed for the more temperate Bangalore climate, Indy and I commented that we better get used to it as it will just keep getting hotter as we make our way to Chennai. We continue walking and find that for the first time we are attracting the attention of the local dogs who for whatever reason are more aggressive than we have encountered before, so much so that I make a point of grabbing a few rocks just in case. This dog attention freaks Indy out a little and after a very good effort we decide to call it quits today after 25kms walking.

We call it quits on a concrete bench next to the road in really the middle of nowhere. The nearest major town is 10km in one direction and 7km in the other. So we sit and discuss out options, not that we have too many. Indy can see dogs in both directions so decides she wants to stay put until an auto comes along, the only other option being a bus. There is not much traffic coming along so we sit and wait and chat. Eventually a couple of autos pass by but with passengers on board, no luck. After a while a man on a motorbike stops to ask our name and what we are doing. He has some straw mats on his bike, either off to market or coming from the market. He takes an interest in us and calls over 4 or 5 of his friends also on bikes with other items attached. They all take great interest in our plight to get back to RUHSA. The next auto comes along and they hail it down and negotiate initially on our behalf. “How much to RUHSA” “330 rupees” “tell him he’s dreaming” remembering ofcourse this is just over $6 to travel 25kms. “How much to Gudiyatham?” “150 rupees” “How about 100”, I got a shake of the head, this time not in the affirmative as I had clearly pushed too far and my negotiation over $1 cost us our ride. Our friends by this stage just look at me and suggest the bus might be the best option, obviously for a cheapskate like me!

I ask our friends if this is a bus stop, knowing ofcourse it is not and they tell me “no problem, bus will stop – number 9 bus”. Only a couple of minutes later hurtling down the road comes a number 9 bus and the men jump into the middle of the road pointing at the two aussies pleading for the bus to stop. We hear the whistle blow and the bus pulls over to which we run up and jump on board thanking our friends for their troubles. What a generous offer to us as we sat there stranded. On the bus there was a driver, a ticket collector and a conductor. It is a very orderly system much to Indy’s surprise with tickets and everything. It cost us 22 rupees to get back to RUHSA. This was Indy’s first experience on a bus. We sat up the back and enjoyed the ride, nice for a change being the biggest vehicle on the road, everyone got out of our way. A lady and her three children sat next to us and we enjoyed a few words together. As we approached the town of Guddiyatham the ticket man gestured to us about some food, I wasn’t sure what he meant but everyone but us got off the bus, must have been a rest stop. We arrived back at the bus depot and went under a shelter, a man came out with a spanner and went under the bus at the back doing some sort of quick repairs, not quite sure what good a spanner will do under a bus but he seemed to know what he was doing.

Whilst sitting at the depot I noticed the young family sitting next to us had left their bag on the bus. I gestured to get off and try to find them but the conductor told me to sit and put the bag at the front of the bus. After a short while we then left the depot and headed a few metres across the road (in the bus) to the bus station and parked there. The young boy from the family came back looking for his bag which I located and returned to him. He thanked me and walked off. A few minutes later he returned with a box of cake and offered a piece to me and to Indy. We sat in the station as the usual hawkers came on and off touting their wares, masala samosas, biscuits, sweets, you name it they had it. Despite how good the samosas looked and smelled we declined and just waited for 20 minutes or so before the bus eventually took off back to RUHSA. Another 15km up the road and we were home. As we neared our bus stop many of the people on the bus gestured to us about our next stop, everyone taking good care of us. We jumped off and started walking off, when a young man ran up and gave Indy back her hat that she had left on the bus. Yet another example of the kind and generous hospitality we have received here. I think sometimes people come to places like India and expect to get ripped off. Our experience has been the exact opposite. On 4 or 5 occasions we have had shopkeepers run after us up the street to return our change, we have had to barter for nothing (except my effort with the auto), and everyone has been extremely generous, it is the most wonderful country with the most hospitable people.

After 90 minutes Indy and I finally arrived home, a little tired but very happy about our day and our time together. I arrive home just in time to have a little rest with Gussy who is a tired boy and we rest up before dinner. There is still no good news from next door with many of the team feeling flat and not hungry. Bec and the kids (and Ally) and I head to Subashini’s house for dinner. Tonight apparently the kids have asked for banana pancakes. We again spend some time with Subashini and her family in their house, this time they have their nail polish out and are painting the girls (and Gus’s) nails on hands and feet, bright pink ofcourse! The girls also arranged some henna for the kids to have their hands and feet tattooed which was a big hit with all the kids. The banana pancakes were beautiful, we forgot how much we missed our pancakes, sweet with lime and sugar and ofcourse banana. Gus was kept entertained by all the family as they played a multitude of games that kept him busy. Another wonderful and special evening shared with our friends.

It is very special just to watch how this one family live in this very small house yet they are so welcoming and hospitable. Friends and neighbours come and go and spend some time with us. Subashini’s uncle keeps coming in every now and again with a new delicacy for us to try, he just won’t stop feeding us. We feel very close to all of the family and it is incredibly special to have the opportunity to be here all together.

Another wonderful day on our trip.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Nick, Bec, Indy, Maggie, Gus and the rest of the family, I have caught up on all your adventures and am awaiting the next chapter.

    I feel like I am on the journey with you all and even though I do not know your family personally Nick after reading your blog I feel like I know each member of the family a little more.

    You are all amazing and I am inspired by what you have all done!