Have you ever had that excitement the day before you go on a school/college trip? The one that keeps you awake all night? I was going through one of those on the 13th of April. I was supposed to start on this ride a week ago, on the 6th. Instead, unforeseen circumstances delayed my plans.
At 2 AM, I was still lying down on the bed unable to sleep, hungry, and supposed to wake up in just 2 hours. I realized by then that I’m not gonna get any sleep. I switched on the lights and headed to the kitchen to eat whatever I found. By 3.00 AM I had my saddlebags packed, jackets worn, and the Honda engine purring, heating itself to the right temperature.
Since it was the dead of night, the traffic was almost zero. The first stretch was the Angamaly-Trissur I ride almost every month. The ride was uneventful until I reached Edapal at 4.35. Then Google Map, being the genius it is, took me through Tirur route, which was otherwise the worst decision to make if it was daytime. There I was at 5:00 in the morning, doing very tight curves on narrow roads. I reached Kozhikode by 5.30. And then traffic began to grow, and the NH was narrow. Both sides of the road from Kozhikode, all the way to Payyannur and beyond were excavated to be made into a 4 lane superhighway. I kept riding imagining the fun we could have once it was complete.
I reached Payyanur, Anjali’s home by 9. It took me 4 hours and 45 mins of riding to reach her. Quite fast for the conditions, with a total distance of 309Kms. It was the motorcycle’s second long ride and it performed beyond expectations, as any decent Honda should.
As I reached her, she was stepping out to go to the temple, I said quick ‘hiii’s, and Ajanya being the sweet sister she is served me breakfast. And I spend until afternoon sleeping. Every time I have been to Anjali’s I have slept the first day. This time I had one more person to meet other than Anjali at her home. Probably the only one who is more important than Anjali herself – Shravya Shri, my goddaughter. I have waited almost a year to meet her, all thanks to Corona. She is quite the curious one, and weirdly, she doesn’t cry a lot compared to other kids( I think ). She was suddenly too important to me. And I know that I’ll be there for her when she needs me.
Ultimately, a visit to Payyannur was more than just seeing Sravya or Anjali. It was exploring parts of the culture and place that I have never experienced before, mostly cuz I never stayed in Kannur long enough to explore places.
I met up with Abudev, a friend from Kozhikkada, on Vishu, Friday. We went to a nearby temple to enquire about Theyyam, and returned in vain, as there was no Theyyam that day. We decided we will meet up after lunch. He promised to take me to a peak, which not many people go to. It was out of the reach of tourists, the thing barely exists on a map. and even with a map, you cant go find your own way there, simply because such a path doesn’t exist. You have to make one. By 4. I reached his place which was 20kms from Payyannur. I picked him up and we had to go 20 km more to get to the foot of Panniyarmudi which is on the border of Karnataka. I rode with him through super narrow winding roads and finally stopped in the middle of what seemed to be nowhere. And then came climbing up the super steep hill.
At first, I was confident that it will come easier for me, as I was walking 5 km every day. But soon realized that I could not even make it 25% without maxing out my lungs. I felt like I can’t make it to the top. (I have never felt that even during the Agarstyarkudam trek, which is supposedly the hardest in Kerala.) And there I was, almost a failure in front of a half an hour steep climb. But somehow, I found the strength to conquer all those negative thoughts and just climb. Decided, I’ll crawl to the top if needed. Thankfully, we soon reached the top. The thick trees gave way to light, nothing but grass all over the hill, with random trees spread out here and there. The calm cold winds were such a soothing feeling, The climb was totally worth it. I have never felt so amazing seeing the sun’s rays push through the clouds as if heaven has opened its doors. The clouds were thick, it was as if rains could just unleash on us at any time. And that’s exactly what we came for, to catch the rain. Adudev explained that it almost rains every time at the top. He has been there a total of 7 times. It’s virtually untouched by civilization, only to be visited by a handful of people. We were the only people in this huge meadow. We walked around and clicked pictures. And after 5 mins, came the rain. Big fat drops which felt like hail. The cold wind, white fog, and the loud rain made everything serene as if everything I have done in my life had led me to it. It was as if I was in heaven. My words can’t describe it. I know the pictures I took will never do justice to what I experienced. But it is what it is. I was in heaven.
We had mangoes up there and head down. We reached really fast down the hill. And headed back to Abudev’s home. By the time we reached civilization, we were the only ones who were drenched in water. People must have thought about where these guys are coming from.
I had the best Samosa and tea from this little shop somewhere on the way back. Don’t know if it’s my hunger, but they tasted heavenly too. It had been 2 years since I have seriously backpacked./ride anywhere. That day, I fell in love again with traveling. I realized why I was doing it. I felt like I belonged to the world. That God has created all of these beautiful things in the world, and it’s a sin not to watch them all.
Theyyam, for those who do not know, is a ritual practiced in North Malabar, where the human becomes God. It’s incredible to see Its history and practices go back thousands of years to the monolithic era. Theyyam has something very different, something neolithic. it feels like you are connected to something so ancient. When I watched Theyyam in Malliyottu Palottu Kavu near Payyanur, I felt related to this wild energy I have never felt before. It was all goosebumps. Unfortunately, photography was prohibited. Although, Etherial has done an amazing video on it.
On Saturday evening, the day after Vishu, by evening, I, Anjali & family went to an amazing backwater called Kavvayi. I already had enquired about Kayaking. Kavvayi basically is a backwater, with an island in the middle and mangroves everywhere. I and Ajanya got into one Kayak, and Lalith and Anju got into another, while poor Anjali was on mom duty, being the mom and all. Poor her. We quickly began to row, a lot of time Ajanya doing the exact opposite of what needed to be done. It was getting late and the organizer did ask us to hurry a bit… We rowed around an island to the mangroves. I directed the kayak towards it, trying to get into the middle of them. Only to get stuck in the mud. I looked to the side and realized that the water is only mere centimeters deep. I stood up, stepped down, and dragged the Kayak and Ajanya on it.. out of the Mangroves. We were later met up by Lalith and Anju. We lost sight of them 10 minutes ago, just to be rejoined. And the whole thing turned into a race. Either way, by the end of it, we had tons of fun. Kayaked for the first time ever.
The next day was all packing. My initial plan was to go to Coorg. But since being a weekend and probably all Keralites flooded there, I was unable to find accommodation. So, I skipped Coorg and Mangalore. And by 12. I left for Chickmanglur.
To be continued.