Monday, May 7, 2012

A walk in the wilds

It was supposed to be a walk in the wilderness for the nature deprived, polluted air inhaling, city bred brats. Stressed by the sights and sounds of the city and tired of spewing angst at news that reads more like an obituary, we had travelled thousands of miles to frolic in the jungles of Kerala. Lush green forests where spotted deer roam around like stray cattle, where pigeons don’t shit in your balcony but on trees, where you wake up to the sound of birds and not the barking of dogs. Away from civilization and the blare of TV, even our mobile connectivity was as temperamental as Mamata Banerjee. It was indeed a pleasant change.

Snail Male
A pleasant change to be able to sit back and stare at the stars, to look for butterflies, watch the snail painfully cross the narrow lane, to dream about the delicacies the chef would be rustling up for us and play badminton in a court shaded by a mango tree, the fallen raw mangoes making a squelchy mess under our feet.
 
The Serene Pookot Lake
Come mealtimes and we’d stuff ourselves to the gills. It’s not every day, one gets to eat yummy Fish Malabar curry and squid Masala with spicy raw mango chutney on the side. And when we started feeling guilty of not doing enough touristy things, we promptly hired a car to see Pookoot Lake. The lake is one the most picturesque and well kept lakes I’ve ever seen - touristy yet serene with a shaded pathway on its periphery.




Our cottage was next to a stream, swelled by the April rains. As we’d sip our morning tea in the balcony, we would spy on a giant Malabar Squirrel staring at us from its leafy refuge. My excited squeals ended up encouraging the monkeys. But instead of sending a friend request on FB like normal beings, they would genuinely try to be friendly. Fools!

The morning was still chilly from last night’s rains, when we all converged at the resort’s reception area, for the promised nature walk. A contingent of eager beavers, their DSLRs hanging heavily from their necks, caps placed at a jaunty angle on their heads, the mandatory honeymooning couple stuck to each like Siamese twins – we were ready to embark on a journey into the unknown and unseen. Our adrenalin was pumping so copiously that we happily dismissed the manager’s gentle warning about the leeches that had come out in droves, thanks to the relentless rain. Ha! We, the brave, battle human leeches all the time!

As we started climbing up the wooded pathway, the stones still moist and the fallen leaves making the path precariously slippery, we realized it was not as easy as it looked. I was taking baby steps, trying my best not to skid like out of control skaters on an ice rink, when Tee happily informed me – Maa did you know, fallen leaves are plant poop!

Leeches up my breeches.


The ordeal started with a series of shrill shrieks and the next thing I see is my husband thumping his feet energetically. Just as I was getting ready to applaud his cool, hip hop moves, I espied those creatures - slimy black things plastered all over our trainers. And no, they didn’t stop at that. They were actually trying to cosy up to our ankles, dying to take a sip from juicy limbs. Hello! Those are my legs, not sugarcane sticks.




But those creepy crawly leeches were not exactly amenable to reason. The harder you stomped your feet and said ‘NO!’, a million others would emerge magically and try to slither inside our shoes. Gosh, they multiply at such an alarming rate! Haven’t they heard of family planning?

The juicy humanoids were looking far from pleased, in fact we all look terrified. But the brave souls we were, we fought them tooth and nail – with bare hands, twigs, blood curdling screams. They felt cold and slimy but that didn’t deter us one bit. We weren’t walking now, we were crawling one leg at a time, battling a platoon of blood sucking aliens.

Bloody leeches, don’t you have anything better to do in life. Like read CB books?

It seemed our ordeal would never end. We had not even glanced at the beautiful environs, so engrossed we were in trying to keep our feet leech free. Our tee-shirts were soaked with sweat and we were wishing we had wings to fly back to our coop.

When I finally saw the main road, I started running faster than PT Usha. Tragically there was no one to time my 500 m dash, otherwise I would have been in London for the Olympics, doing our country proud.

We were finally inside our resort and I was in the restroom doing what normal beings do out of relief. And there they were, three more of them, trying crawl on to my feet!!! I launched a watery missile at them and did an angry tandav to get rid of them. Phew! Good riddance to bad rubbish.

I was now crossing the rope bridge to get to the dining area, dreaming of steaming puttus and kadla, when I saw another bloody leech nestled comfortably behind my knees. My battle cry was heard even in the neighbouring state of Karnataka and caused a stampede in the jungles of Nagarhole.

And Tee helpfully chirped in – Maa, did you know that the guy in Man v/s Wild ate leeches raw!
If you are wondering - Where the hell did she go?  Ahh..she was holed up in Vythri, Wayanad.
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53 comments:

  1. Ha...the leeches decided to gate-crash your party. You should be proud of the fan following you had in the jungle.
    Didn't they sing "Abhi na jao chhod kar, ke dil abhi bhara nahi" to you when you were leaving?

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    1. Nope! the leeches were more interested in singing - Main karoon toh salaa character dheela hai!

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  2. South is indeed breathtaking....From the pictures, I thought you visited Bandipur Sanctuary. I am sure u had a good break.
    Leeches and family planning...? No, Laloo is their inspiration.

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    1. Hahaha! Laloo and Rabdi production.

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  3. I wonder if there's a horror movie with leeches. They would jump out of nowhere and suck people to death. OR turn people into walking zombies who spit out leeches from their mouth.

    H/B/Tollywood, are you listening? I'm a brilliant scriptwriter!

    (P.S.: Awesome! I'm a major fan of Vythri, just telling you the nth time!)

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    1. The attack of the bleddy leeches - scripted by Kartikay Sahay? Bring it on, I say :D

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  4. You should be happy that leeches did not ask for "friendship" request on facebook :-p
    Very hilariously written..

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    1. They were just after my blood :p

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  5. kerala is definitely very serene!!....and i loved my travel there...

    regarding leeches..didn't the hotel manager/nature guide tell you that the easiest way to get rid of them is to put some salt on them....they will slink off....but what it does to the point of your body where it made a insertion for its bloody suction is another thing...ever tried salt on your wounds!! :P

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    1. LOL...salt on my wounds indeed!

      And yes, our guide was carrying a salt-Dettol solution with him.

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  6. A very enjoyable post! A marathon sprint could be surly won with a viper chasing instead of leeches in an Olympic:)

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    1. Oh! a viper can make my fly. Purba Ray - the flying Bong :D

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  7. I am terrified of leeches. :D I majored in Zoology and hated dissecting them. We had to squeeze out the blood and then pin the fellers to the board. Urgh.

    Love the photo of that snail!

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    1. Urgh indeed!

      Poor things, dying for the sake of science.

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  8. Omigod! My brother spent a week in Sikkim and came back to Bombay with baby leeches in his bag!!! haha, and the 500 m sprint. This is one rib tickling post Purba.

    And when everybody talks about the leeches, I am all dreaming about the Fish Malabar curry :-)

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    1. And the yummy mutton, Pandi curry - sigh, I could go on and on and on :D

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  9. oh god this reminded me of the time we went on a Trek for a week in sikkim and at night it was horrible to sleep in tents with leeches around by morning we had so many on us ...

    and a dash in the end is always good gets the blood pumping and all :) he he he

    Bikram's

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    1. A dash works wonders for your appetite :-)

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  10. Purba,

    A hilarious account of your venture into the wild with your trademark digs under the breath, temperamental lady or FB. And to make it more interesting, you had best companion in Tee. Enjoyed thoroughly.

    Take care

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    1. Tee and her expert comments, what would I do without them!

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  11. The leeches have sugar problem... err salt problem. Sprinkle salt on them, they die.
    But, you did great service in not killing them and just getting rid of them by shaking them off. :P

    Seems like the leeches leeched away all the fun stories of Kerala? :P

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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    1. We actually didn't do much - played scrabble, read books and took long walks :-)

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  12. I can sense the essence of how much these things been special to you. From your writing style I can make out the joy you have got in putting your experience into words.

    Encore... God Bless

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    1. It was a lazy vacation and we enjoyed in thoroughly :)

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  13. Di, that sounds horrendous! I haven't had an experience with them myself but have seen them on my cousin when were visiting our 'desher baari' last time I was in BD. Awful!

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    1. Bleddy awful, but now I can sit back and crack jokes about it :)

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  14. Absolutely fascinating, Purba.A fine write up...

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  15. A very interesting description of your journey. It's a very good to read.

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  16. I am unable to laugh because leeches hurt and when they are done they leave marks on you. A group of my friends were attacked by so many of them that they were ordered to keep running up the mountain till they could hit an altitude where they could not climb up anymore. You wait to remove them, some more climb up. So actually the fact that you ran served you well. Are the marks gone? Sorry, Purba, leeches freak me out way too much to laugh over this write-up and the write-up was way too real (:-

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    1. Thankfully we didn't let them go beyond our shoes. And the few that managed to snuggle inside, were thrown out unceremoniously :-)

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  17. But your cultural metaphors "Mamata Banerjee" and "Siamese twins" were appropriate:):)...aah, the honeymooners and then few years later-the non-identical twins:)

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    1. Makes you wonder what goes so spectacularly wrong, within just a few years of togetherness.

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  18. Were you in Wayanad or Idukki?? I think the 'attas' of Kerala as the leeches are called are pretty famous among tourists..:) But they say a bit of lime can dehydrate them, make them shrivel up and die! :)

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    1. I didn't want them to die :(

      And we were in Vythri(Wayanad).

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  19. Ugh, leeches. I am scared of them. Vyrthri is beautiful. We stayed in the Blue Ginger resort on our trip there. Breathtaking beauty equals Kerala!

    http://rachnaparmar.com

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    1. The breathtakingly beautiful sights, the serenity that surrounds you - I am in love with Kerala.

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  20. That was one great leech dance! Imagined your Olympic dash too and had a good laugh :)

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    1. Hehe! the breakfast more than compensated for our agony.

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  21. The path around Pookote Lake is super cool. :) I'm originally from Waynad. But from a part of the district where there are no leeches. I'm so glad.
    What I'm not particularly fond of around my place are the snakes.
    Love the photograph of the snail.

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    1. Would love to read about your growing up years in Wayand!

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    2. I love your write up. I swear, now I am so thankful for the absence of leeches around our place.
      I went to boarding school so Wayanad was where I holidayed 3 months of the year. :)Here's what I wrote for the Kissan contest. Stop by when you have some time. http://dnambiar11.blogspot.com/2012/03/growing-up-in-natures-playground.html

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    3. The post transported me to Wayanad again. Nice read :)

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  22. I stay in Bangalore, Karnataka and I have heard a scream.. That was you eh! :P

    Great write up... :)

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    1. Now that you know it was me, you can stop having nightmares :)

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  23. Pookot lake looks beautiful. Hope you had a wonderful holiday - Tee sounds typical - plant poop and gory tales. Someone else wrote about Byndoor, Karnataka and put up pictures. How come Bombay had such muddy and dirty waters? Makes one realise Bombay isn't India, thank goodness!

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    1. Kabini was even better...crystal clear water, pleasant weather and beautiful mountains in the backdrop.

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  24. You had ultimate fun ! 'Nuf said :)

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  25. Wow, such a wonderful and gorgeous trip. When you are at the jungles, you can expect anything. Leeches are common in jungles, the reason why experts ask you to carry salt bags. I know someone who was attacked by leeches and his entire back got almost sucked out. Nevertheless, it is these natural and godly things that we head to jungles for. A jungle wouldn’t be a jungle without these wild experiences. It is this experiences that makes your memories and stories for the rest of your life.

    Divya Bhaskar
    MyGrahak.com

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  26. Nice cute snail:) I had a similar experience with leeches before. But I'm sure you had great fun!

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