– by Mujeeb Jaihoon
Imagine rising up at 5 in the morning and getting ready for a semi-picnic trip with all the sincerity of exploring a region never-seen but often-heard before?
Dawn at Kerala, like any other place on earth, is an exciting ‘series of moments’ with the day slowly rising from the womb of night and night slowly hiding behind the veil of day. This moment of Affinity is one of the magical wonders of Lord’s Might and Power. Man can, and nothing but ‘can’, observe it and utter a cry of helplessness, ignorance, weakness… Subhanallah!
The car rushed, and never blushed of its speed. Some passengers swung consciously and others unconsciously. In the the non-stop four-hour journey, the morning air was fresh as we climbed the ‘Choram’, up and up. Forests, thick and deep, was an exciting sight. Not to miss the monkeys who sat on either sides of the road. They at times approached the humans, but with fear and caution of course.
The uphill climb was electrified by the qawwali of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali, with its soul-shaking mystical lyrics describing the ‘haal’ of dervishes in the their own ‘crazy’ style.
However, Hyper Politics- the widespread curse of Kerala which hampers their progress- was not totally absent on this hilly region too. Activists of various parties and organizations polluted the hill’s sideways and the barks of the huge trees with slogans and party names.
The people of Wayanad live in humble surroundings. It is hard to distinguish between the boundaries of one house from another. But rain is almost an everyday phenomenon here. And the soil is magical- simply throw the seed of some vegetable or fruit, and it is cent percent sure to grow. People may be poor in wealth, but the soil is rich. Tapioca, cherry, tea, coffee, guava, sugar cane and so on…
The ‘Pookod’ lake is a fascinating spot. Manual paddle boats are rented here for 20/40 minutes. The lake is filled with water lily and other plants. It is prohibited to pluck and ride the boat over them- both of which rules were recklessly violated by the visitors. Families of mom, dad, kids and grandparents, newly-married couples and fun-loving bachelors flooded the park. A shop selling native-made artifacts was also seen near the entrance. Obviously another commercial attempt to auction the state’s tradition before the tourists.
If the first destination was a mild one, the next was more wild- in nature and in efforts made to reach there! All my co-travelers knew about the place was that there was a superb waterfall there. And for a non-resident expatriate, it naturally appealed. Little did I know of the exhaustive adventure- first downhill and then uphill, climbing the rocks, slipping in the marshy land, balancing between stones, jumping over thorny plants…
We first moved in between coffee plantations, then through the forests… it was fun at first due to the downhill journey, forgetting the same journey back would be in the opposite vertical direction.
Finally on reaching the waterfall site, we discovered that we were not the only visitors. Some French students accompanied by a local guide was also making merry near the waters. We washed our faces and walked a little daring against the nature-powered hydro-miracle.
And then after the excitement faded, we chose to return. Uphill. It was not poetic at all, I swear. Depending on the level of energy, my better half helped me stand still from falling, and I helped her to climb the critical rocks.
And after almost an hour of climb, the young group almost fainted. Thirst was high and so was the mid-day sun. It was too late to realize that we had chosen the wrong time.
On the way back towards the car, parked almost a kilometer away, we walked like wounded soldiers. Unable to bear the thirst, we stopped by a native’s house asking for some water. The Hindu household had just finished their lunch. The old man gave us a mid-sized jug of water. Fresh and unpolluted. It was sweet to drink and became more sweeter when drank, following the manner shown by the Beloved of Almighty, sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. Life is one sweet experience when modeled after his practice.
The men had their mid-day prayers’established’ at a local Masjid. The hard part was finding a prayer-room for the lady in the group. Muslim Kerala is yet to improve on this aspect. We searched almost the whole of hill station region, but in vain. Finally, a Muslim home was the only solution. They welcomed the young couple and served sulaimani after the prayer.
We thanked the members and bid farewell.
On the way back, got down the car and had a look at the choram. What a scene it was…