What happens when you bring together two girls, a bottle (okay two) of vodka and gorgeous Coorg?
Before you conjure a hundred stories, let me tell you a few things. The story starts with only me, an evening in Delhi and no alcohol at all.
One cold, winter morning, "Kirrraaaat" screeched a surprisingly soft voice. When I turned around I couldn't believe my eyes and my luck. My closest friend from the 8th grade rushed to give me the warmest hug in the middle of one of Delhi's most crowded markets, Sarojini Nagar.
(Everyone knows how crowded Sarojini is but especially on that particular day, I got stomped on my feet over a hundred times and was super pissed.)
Shrishti decided to stand in the middle of the market and catch up on the last 10 years! Before another person could push us or pass us a dirty look, I suggested a coffee shop close by. We headed there hand-in-hand like 12 year olds.
In the coffee shop, she brought me upto date on the last 10 years of her life. And in the next half hour, she told me about her plans for Varanasi, Coorg, Udaipur and Goa.
(In the same breath, she graciously invited me for her upcoming trip to Coorg. By upcoming, I mean in the next couple of hours)
Being the person I am, I politely refused. Bemused, she couldn’t figure out why I would refuse to such a wonderful offer. Everything was paid for, all I needed to do was book my tickets.
*Here, I must mention I was at that point in my life when nothing seemed to be working out. My work life was tediously torturous, I had forgotten the last time I spent time with my family and was going through a classic case of “we are in a relationship but just not committed enough”.
After much persuasion, she made me call my boss and ask for leave due to a family emergency. Next she made me call my mom and ask for permission and a packed bag (we were to leave in a couple of hours, you see).
On that day and since, I don’t think my mother has been as shocked at any of my decisions. And as angry!
The moment all the ‘permission’ hurdles were crossed and I realized I couldn’t possible go home, pack and reach the airport in time. I panicked.
(Inner monologue: “What if she is creepy? What if she sleeps through the holiday? I don’t know her AT ALL, I only know the 14 year girl she was. This is a stupid, stupid decision”)
But those who know me will know what a tuff time I have refusing anything once I have said yes. In my worst situations, I simply go MIA. Here I didn’t have the opportunity. I quietly booked my tickets (which BTW were very cheap, 4k return).
Distance from Delhi to Bangalore: 1740 km
Time taken: 2.5 hours
Highlights: Shrishti is a dancer and is on a break from performing. She is as free-spirited as she was in school.
Maybe I am lucky, maybe my friend is an angel. But we reached Bangalore without any mishap and the flight was quite eventful with Shrishti’s bundle of stories. Though I still don’t know the reason for my changed mood and behavior during that trip but I do know the exact moment when it happened. When I stopped being a 'planner' and became an 'experiencer' (Yup, it's a made-up word).
The moment: At the airport, I was hunting for a pre-paid taxi to the middle of the city. When Shrishti suddenly had the bright idea of renting a car and driving to Coorg.
(Inner monologue: See, this girl is crazy. Drive to Coorg! Alone. No, Kirat no. You don’t know the routes, the language or the place. Say no. Right now).
I heard myself saying yes and excitedly so! We rented an Alto, gave a hefty security deposit and made our way to Coorg.
At this point, I think I should mention I had no luggage besides a rucksack with only the bare necessities I would need for a couple of days. Bought from my all-time favourite – Sarojini Nagar.
Distance from Bangalore to Coorg: 237 km
Time taken: 5 hours, 20 minutes
Highlights: I learnt how to make Set dosa from a super strict teacher. Discovered the secret ingredient in filter coffee. No, I am not telling.
Now, I have always wanted to travel. Solo or in a group didn’t matter as long as I was in a new place. I also love planning for these trips. So this was a new experience, which was very unlike me. Impulsive.
The first few sights when you enter Coorg are of small lanes, bright greenery and blanketing trees. The fresh air greeted us and I was so in awe of the weather that I didn’t realize when we reached our tiny homestay. It was called “Aama’s place”. I believe the place doesn’t exist anymore but there is a small tea shop instead. It was about 4 km from Madikeri and was set amidst grassy highlands (and heavy mist when we reached).
We unpacked what little we had and rushed to a nearby lake side she knew of. During the drive, I found out she had been here atleast three times before. As we made our way to the lakeside on foot, the sun bid us farewell and the shy moonlight said hello.
If I had remembered to take pictures then, you would have believed me when I say that nature has its own way to charm the hell out of the worst of cynics.
(Inner Monologue: How will I ever thank this girl?)
As we made our way to the lone eating joint by the side of the lake, we heard the soft strumming of a guitar and a super sexy voice crooning. We made our way to the music, obviously! There, a group of Irish tourists greeted us with warmth I haven’t received from my own relatives (true story).
To my utter shock, they were singing a local folk song they had learnt only yesterday! I was ashamed and reminded of my lack of talent as I sat down to a hot plate of Maggie and a sexy voice(did I mention that it belonged to a very good looking boy) crooning in a language I didn’t understand.
The voice, the weather, the night helped me feel and think about things I have never admitted to myself. The fragility of life and relations and the surreal life we live so realistically. Changes had to be made (and I am happy to say changes were made).
P.S I thank the Irish musicians once again with all my heart. (I am in touch with a couple of them and they inspire me everytime we speak).
I realized the high travelling gave me, the world travelling took me into. The need to disconnect and as cliché as it sounds, we all need it. We need to disconnect from everything we consider real and maybe just laugh at it all. Once. It wasn’t meant to be so serious and so difficult. Let’s not make it.
Because if a coincidence can do this, imagine what else life has in store for me!
Highlight of the outing: I came back to the guesthouse sitting on top of a 3 year old elephant called Maharaja. The elephant, who lived, in the farm house close-by was perhaps my favourite part of the trip. I am still in touch with my not-so-little friend.
Where’s the vodka, you wonder? Well, it wasn’t in Coorg. Not a drop of alcohol was consumed in the beautifully intoxicating town.
It was a follow-up to the trip.
A party did take place. Till the wee hours of the morning. But do I remember anything from the hullabaloo? Nope, just hazy parts of the night. But the 1000 or so words written above are what I remember from a non-alcoholic, super fun, eye-opening pre-bash to what we in life consider ‘partying’.