This is second and the last part of my earlier post - The Branch Tour 2011 and me. Please read my last post before reading this.
Disclaimer: The following post is dedicated to all my branch mates and is a little more on the personal side. Additionally, the post is too long and may not be of any relevance for those who seek to attain any bit of technical nirvana from this blog. So, you may happily TLDR this post.
Note: This post was supposed to be published quite a long time back, but stating some hard facts directly felt bad that ago; better late then never. ;-) (actually posted on 2012-01-05)
Day 3 - Hogenakkal Falls, Tamil Nadu
Day 3 started with our reaching Hogenakkal early morning, getting freshened up at a not-that-commendable hotel-like-place and having breakfast at nearby C M Hotel (cum-bar); the food was pretty strange there and I didn’t get the papad after multiple attempts. :-(
After everybody got ready, we prepared to visit the falls. Everybody wore light clothes since we were all going to get wet and I wondered if I had any shorts; of course, I had none, so bought a cheap one (and I mean damn cheap - 45 bucks) from a khokha near our bus. Since it was a lot of water we were going to get into, most of us decided not take cameras, phones, etc. along (and that explains why there are least pics of this day in my album).
The falls were serene. The water seemed a bit greenish, almost dirty, but I did enjoy a lot. The most peculiar things were those round boats (they are called coracles, which I just got to learn from Wikipedia), the boaters asked us to form groups 6-7 for each boat and made us sit uniformly in the boat for perfect balance. The funny part was how the boaters were using just a single paddle to row their boats and making the boat go round and round that too at a decent rotational velocity near the falls (or sometimes simply in the middle of the river). They had another use of the paddle - to attack the other boaters (and us) with a huge splash of water, poor us could use just handfuls of water at a time; it was especially more fun when the boats came near and rotated around (no need to mention, we were drenched during the exercise). It felt such a bliss when the boatman took us near the falls with the small droplets washing our faces.
Rest of the day was spent travelling to our next destination - Ooty.
Many will agree the journey in the bus was the most fun part of the whole tour with all those dancing, singing sensations and couple photo and video shoots. The energies of Kuruvi and Rojith were unmatchable while they danced. I learned a few hard facts of life in the bus over the tour. I have always hated people who smoke or drink and here I was sitting in the middle of the bus and could smell smoke from the back and liquor from some of the dancers. I was wondering even the girls at the front didn’t seem to object or even acknowledge this. In a chat with a few girls, I got to know the general opinion - most of us guys do smoke and drink - not a big deal! I was a little shocked but decided to accept the ‘fact’ as such - of course, it didn’t mean I would move to the ‘most of the guys’ category after that. Another shocker for me was the point when some of the guys among us actually climbed over the wall of a petrol pump to relieve themselves!
It was during this bus journey that I actually started to miss someone. Perhaps it was due to that frustrating music that started playing during the later part of the bus journey (it reminded me of those dehati songs like hatja tau that irritated me up north). It was only then that I tried to pass time somehow by browsing mails (and breaking my self-made promise of staying away from the net while on the tour), reading slashdot, on GPRS; texting a friend (though I am stingy, and it was costing me STD rates) and a little conversation actually helped cool down my agony.
Anyhow, we stayed at Asoka Inn (after having an almost cold dinner in their restaurant). This one hotel was perfect example of deceit - the outside seemed so grand and professional, the rooms inside were exactly the opposite. And we were 4-5 in a room which had just a double-bed. Perhaps this was to bring our raised hopes from Comfort Inn experience back to the ground-level.
Day 4 - Ooty Lake, The Tea Factory and Government Botanical Gardens, Ooty
We set out early morning towards the lake, the bus journey towards the top of the hills was indeed nice. We actually saw the clouds mingling with hill peaks; the sight was even lovelier near the top when those tea plantations along with rows of colorful houses became visible.
Reaching the lake, some shopping and boating followed. Forming groups for boating was slightly more difficult this time, but the ride was enjoyable. There were shops selling various types of chocolates in the lake market, I bought some for taking back to hostel, and some to gift a friend. There was a weird sound making Horror House too, just above a restaurant. We spent some more time eating, roaming, and some of us got our pics clicked posing as riding a horse.
Next up was The Tea Factory. A guided tour of the factory, explanation of various processes in tea making, purchasing herbal tea for mom (which she never actually tried to prepare even once when I got back home :-( ), tasting some flavor of tea in small cup and a pass through a mini chocolote market inside the factory followed and then some iconic photographs outside later (one actually depicts Sachu in an almost hollywood like scene, all thanks to Thridev).
Next we visited Botanical Gardens. It was a huge garden with various species of plants and flowers, the carvings of the leaves to form many shapes and letters was striking. We mostly roamed around for photo shoots at different locations and settings. Najih had some more show in store for us. ;-)
The tour officially ended with camp fire and dance around it at the night. There were few more shockers for me there, but putting everything here might not be necessary. We reached late at night at college and collectively showed up to attend the classes too in the morning - all hail to the branch spirit!
As it was coming to an end, I was thinking more and more about how I will miss those 4-5 days spent together with my branch mates (and as Delbin put it later - perhaps that was the first and last branch tour we could manage).
So you managed to read all of the above (and perhaps the first part too)? Congratulations! You deserve a special mention on this blog - get yourself one my posting a comment below :P. BTW there are some good and not-so-good photos I took during the tour available online, do take a look at my CSE Branch Tour - Picasa Web Album.