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Inky Pinky Ponky Dandeli Saw A Monkey

Friday, May 17, 2019 A day before full moon day. Some say, “it is a distasteful night to travel”, being a rationalist and almost an atheist, I was waiting on my toes to travel. Everyone knew that, I was made for traveling and hiking.

Some ask: “Why does he travel so much? Is he lunatic?”

Me: I don’t know, but travel seems to be the only antidote for the poison, I consume every day.

When the clock struck 8:35 PM, I rushed to the office basement and started riding my bike towards Koramangala, 12.5 Kilometers away. On a regular day, it should only take about 18-20 mins but guess what, where I am, “Bangalore, A city known for unpredictable traffic”. I was bedazzled and my brain froze in excitement and horror. The fear of missing the bus started to creep and I could not make a wary decision. Normally, in such situations, I always toss a coin, but this time I was riding my bike and had no time to toss a coin so I decided to resort to ‘INKY PINKY PONKY’ and took the Electronic city Flyover, that turned out to be expensive and risky. I was on a mad rush to reach on time but eventually, it had to happen, I missed the bus at Koramangala pick up point. The fear exploded to multiple folds, but this time, I had to make it to Dandeli, if not, it would have been 3 straight weekends at home without travel. I had 2 options again, sit back, continue eating the poison or risk it and travel towards the last pickup point towards MG Road. INKY PINKY PONKY - MG Road and I was on my way. Surprisingly, the clock already rang the bell, but to my surprise, I stood alone waiting for 3 other fellow travelers along with the bus. Now, my heart cringed for my bike which was parked on a under-construction road a shady place, to be true, uncertain, if it will be stolen or beaten or bruised by the construction workers.

Love is the death of Duty

10:30 PM, I was on the bus finally, when the trip leader shared the itinerary. We were travelling 457 Kilometers away from Bangalore. The monkey inside me was thriving again to see 20 strangers on the bus. This was the time for us to know each other and share some part of ourselves. New faces and maybe new friends for life, I had to be wary of what not to say, it is said that “Public speaking is next to fear of death “and termed as ‘Gloss phobia’. Communication skills come in handy and always get one out of trouble. Travelers stepped up and I could see sweat rolling off from the temples of the speaker. A few had already travelled with the same travel hosting group- “Safarnama Travels” and were also with friends and colleagues. A few were super excited boys and girls who were travelling solo, it was an occasion to spot the knot and portray the best of you to the audience.

Traffic, Traffic and more Traffic, as if the world was conspiring against me travelling to Dandeli. Around 11:30 PM, I saw the moon following the bus and recalled my childhood days. It was uncommon for anyone, not to spot the big beautiful Moon, that night. Dimples are deformities, but a traveler caught my eyes, she has the best Dimples that I had seen in a long time, the monkey in the bus said, “she is cute ''.

Kissed by the moon

Her smile is an excruciating bundle of happiness and I knew that this trip will be a hell of a trip to remember. Back to back dance numbers and the beats automatically jiggling my body, it was late in the night, but the party had just begun. The bus stopped at a junction and were warned by the Trip leader that this shall be the last pitstop and there shall be no other stops, till we reach our destination. Looked around for Tea but in vain and we hurried back after Pee stopped. The dancers danced their way into the solo travelers’ hearts, beat after beat and song after song. Mesmerized by the Moon, Dimple and the Dance, I killed my pending office duty for a traveler inside me. Travel comes first and then the duty. The monkey in the bus curiously asked, “Give me a chance to be myself”. It was again the time for INKY PINKY PONKY. The laptop stayed in the bag locked away.

“Give me a chance to be myself”

We had a great time on the bus dancing and singing all night long. The travelers were already bowled out with the passion of the Trip Leader had inside him and in-fact, he had rubbed his charm and comical timing on us. The leader was also a part time DJ in the bus, and he pulled it off in style. Around 8:00 AM, the Bus pulled over at a fuel station just outside the forest and about 50 Kilometers away from Dandeli. This reminded me to wonder if my bike was safe at the construction site. The moon was hidden by now. A few travelers climbed to the roof of the bus, but the trip Leader requested to sit inside the bus. Forest check post was only a few meters away from the fuel station. But the mad monkey was high on adrenaline and sat on top of the bus, dogging the glaring eyes of the Forest guards and had successfully evaded the checkpoint unscarred. The monkey for the first time slept on a moving bus and was trying hard to spot animals in the wild. Langurs, Blue breasted Kingfisher, Pied hornbill and Indian bee, eater birds, welcomed monkey to Dandeli.

Dandeli was not a new place to me, Dandeli is not a place, it’s an emotion. It has everything that a monkey always wanted. Dandeli has a River, Dandeli has a dam, hiking through a forest, River rafting, Boating, Kayaking, Zorbing, Natural jacuzzi and zip line were a part of the travel package except Zip line. The Food was great, and the stay was greater. We, the travelers, were a group of friends now and we cared for each other, Splashing water while Kayaking. I noticed Jenni for the first time and her dimples seemed like it grew bigger in the last 12 hours. Rafting the rough water did not only teach me how life flows, it taught me that I am the flow. A small pool of rocks formed Natural jacuzzi where water gushed out the porous rocks and it massaged all my old sorrows out of me. Zorbing teaches you how life and people will push you down, but you must get up, else, you will be pushed out of the race. I sobbed and cried all alone for a year realized late that time has passed, and I still live in the past. River Kali made my clothes wet and eyes dry and I focused on life beyond imagination.

The Scorpion King

A decent south Indian Lunch should have Salt, Pickle, Fries, Sautéed Vegetable (palya), Rice, Curry and Sweet and the Trip leader had ensured that our diet cautious friends had adequate Chapatis to fill the bellies. After a quick shower and a short break, we were all ready again for more the Trip leader briefed the group about the do’s and don’ts and we travelled about 12 Kilometers to the back-water dam at Agoda to witness a lovely sun going down. The monkey walked away from the group to the water hole to spend time alone pondering on his past life, much needed break from the poisons that he ate every day. The search of the soul stone started yet again, and the long alone walk yielded nothing, but the sinking sun dragged my sorrows away from me.

Back in the resort and it was dark, Tents were cleaned and ready for us to recover the lost energy. The sight of the full moon was delightful. The party had just begun. 9 members from The Indian Army danced to Gujarati Songs and we sat looking at each other and were waiting for the guys to play Hindi songs, the hefty men retreated to their respective tents and it was time, yet again to polish my dancing skills. Part time DJ and our Own Trip leader played a host of games like ‘Password’, ‘Guess what’ and danced to the music. A few went for night walks and a few were busy trying to impress the girls. Jenni slept early. The monkey was sleepy. We heard a loud cry for one of the participants who was stung by a huge Green Scorpion. Swelling, pain and the fear of creepies and crawlies put all of us to sleep soon after.

Search of Soul Stone

At Sunday, 6:30 in the morning, trip leader walked towards each and every tent, woke all participants and pepped us for a hike in the jungle and not a single participant missed the morning walk in the forest which lead us to a place which was like the South Indian Pangong lake, Skipping stone challenge and the relentless search for the soul stone kept the monkey occupied. A local guide accompanied us to the lake to ensure safety and no more Scorpion attacks. The guide also caught a live crab with his bare hands, the finches were like players waiting to chop his fingers. Finally, I found not one but two Soul Stones, I asked the dimple girl to pick the best one. She loved the stones and kept the best one for herself. I was happy that I spoke to the dimple girl again. On the way back, we saw a huge rock with a lot of green Moss covered, that’s where we rested for some time. At the resort our breakfast was ready, and twenty strangers by now were close friends who helped each other pack bags to travel back to Bangalore. Durga Hotel, on the left side of the main road, is famous for Egg Maharaja, which is a must try delicacy of Durga hotel. Bangalore was only a few hours away and the heavy heart had no option.

Return of The bike

Reached Bangalore at 11:40 PM and the bike was missing, A walk to the police station with a series of thoughts “if the bike is stolen”, “I have no driving license what if the police ask”, “Will my bike have any damages”, “shall I come back tomorrow and deal with the cops”. Finally, I reached the police station and found my bike well taken care of parked under a huge Mango tree and the cop asked for 300 RS which is less than the cab money that I would have paid. A Happy ending is it not? Nope I knew that, this was the last time that I would see Jenni every again. It’s time to come back to reality again :(…

Dandeli I love you 😊 INKY PINKY PONKY.