Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 34 - Tirunelveli to Kanyakumari

Think of the most beautiful experience you've ever had and then get onto a cycle and ride from Tirunelveli to Kanyakumari and then you decide which one tops your list. This expedition could not have ended more perfectly. We cycled on the most picturesque road, with hundreds and hundreds of windmills on either sides, the wind guiding us forward. We had a 5 a.m. headstart and no troubles on the way. We had our last dhaba breakfast for the expedition and wiped out the chutney container and took a long lime juice break at a hotel mid way where the manager invited us in and allowed us to make our own lime juice in the lobby. We also met with two Bengali journalists on a bike who were riding from Kolkata to Kanyakumari and then to Kashmir to promote road safety.

The girls were cheering and screaming at every milestone achieved, excited to reach our goal. We seemed to be cycling at a 100km/hour!!! The feeling was exhilarating knowing that Kanyakumari was ahead of us!

We reached Kanyakumari by noon, and were recieved by the President of IMF who had especially come all the way to flag us in. Mr. Govind Srinivas, Mrs. Vasumati's better half was also there to recieve us. After having a quick lunch we headed off to the Vivekananda rock where we spent hours staring at the magnificent convergence of the 3 seas. We then headed back to our hotel to get ready to meet the Rotarians who treated us to some delicious dinner! They even honoured us with pretty pink purses and caps. Infact a very funny incident occurred while we were at the hotel where we had our meeting with the Rotarians; 9 girls got into a 5 man elevator and it got stuck!!!! We finally got a technician to open it up and the girls were rescued!!!

The night ended with the leader giving all the girls a surprise; we were all flying from Trivandrum to Bangalore!!! We all hurriedly packed our bags and loaded the truck with our excess luggage and cycles so that the truck could head off to Bangalore.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 33 - Sattur to Tirunelveli, 80 kms

hehehehhe.. you don’t want to know what we did once we got to Tirunelveli :) But I'm sure you will get it right if you tried to guess… We went saree shopping hahahahah… We bought all the sarees in Tirunelveli to add to our Madurai collection….

It was a nice ride. I think we are all seasoned cyclists now and don’t feel the road too much (or so we would like to think). We have just one more day to go and we are still quiet unable to believe that we have cycled so much. Can't believe that we are already at the end. It Is funny actually. In some ways it feels like we started cycling yesterday. And in some ways it feels like we've been cycling all our lives, that this expedition is just another part of our lives.

NH 7 is a great road to cycle on. We've been on it from Dindugal and It feels as good as our umbilical cord - NH5 :) : 4-lane, double road with its 5-6 ft cycling lane.

We got flagged off at Tirunelveli by the Minister for Environment and also the Minister for Sports. Just our luck that they were here to do so. The accommodation that we have got here, is definitely the best that we have got so far on the entire expedition. It Is wonderful.. Feels like 7 star for us :)

It is amazing how quickly the Rotarians are able to put together a great function for us at such a short notice (this is actually true for all our locations. They all got a max of 24 hrs notice that we were going to land up). We got honoured here with small idols and fancy shawls. very touching.

Day 32 - Madurai to Sattur, 80 Kms

Only 2 more days to go.. As the end of the expedition is coming closer, so is the realisation increasing that we have to leave each other soon and get back to our lives… (not that our lives are not exciting enough :) )

We started off our day at 4 in high spirits as we were told that we have only 50 kms to go.. but after about 25 kms of hard riding, we came across a milestone that said we have 55 more to go… :(

But it was a great day.. Great weather and great cycling :) We took hardly any breaks and reached Sattur before 12 noon. We were greeted with very refreshing fresh lime juice with jal jeera in it that we stood outside a shop and had. The shopkeeper was so excited to meet us that he gave us free biscuits to eat. Thereafter were taken to a marriage hall where we were to stay for the night. Since, we'd bought so many sarees yesterday, we decided we need to get at least one member of our team married here today.. hehehe.. no luck though..

Had some great lunch as usual :) and managed to get some rest.. The exciting part of today was the visit to the match factory (Sugar Match Factory - that's the name)… It takes a team of 60 people to make one match box that sells for Re. 1/-. All age groups of people work in the factory from Women to old men. Each one does the kind of work that they are able to do. The old men stick stickers on the boxes and the women mostly box the matches. Wow, they work so so fast :) It is fascinating to see how a roll of paper Is transformed into the bright tipped matches in no time at all. The machinery is all very simple and so are the processes, but they process is of complete transformation.

We had a great presentation at the end of the day. Krushnaa Patil gave a presentation about her 6 summits and Reena about her expedition to the South Pole. They really enjoyed it and so did we. Sleepy now.. another 80 kms tomorrow :) And i'm sure everyone is waiting for another round of shopping hehehe..

Day 31 - Dindigul to Madurai

What do a bunch of women love to do? Any guesses?? hehehehe… of course - SHOPPING!!!! And I think we bought almost all the sarees available in Madurai. We have never seen sarees so cheap and yet beautiful. The sales people at Pothy's were extremely happy with us and even knew us by our names (thanks to our new t-shirts with our names at the back).

We stayed at the Gujarati Samaj and had some great Gujju food yet again. Highlight of the day (apart from the saree shopping) was the visit to the Meenakshi Temple. What a temple! Out of this world. So beautiful and HUGE!! Even if I put 30 exclamation marks, it is not enough to describe the way we felt after looking at the beauty of the temple and its numerous granite pillars and sculptures… The temple contains the sanctum sanctorum of both Goddess Meenakshi (Goddess Parvati) and of her consort - Lord Shiva.

After this, we had a presentation with the Rotary gang. I must mention that this particular batch of the Rotarians that we met were indeed very different from the ones that we have met all these days. The whole time that we were there, they just kept pulling each other's legs and were so much fun. A very jovial and friendly batch. They spent time with each and every one of us and took the trouble to find out all of our details. Even during our presentation, they asked us so many questions that eventually we had to cut it short :)

Day 30 - Trichi to Dindigul, 100kms

The morning started with cycling on a well lit and smooth highway. Unfortunately some girls couldn’t start off with us as they had cycle issues. We went through some small towns and the highway became a narrow road and then was under construction for a few kms, so that stretch was not quite comfortable for us. But breakfast was as always yummy with humongous dosas, puris and idlis!!! We reached our destination by afternoon and were taken to the Rotary club house and ate yummy mushroom biryani for the very first time!!! We then spent more than an hour getting the cycles fixed by a very sweet old man at the cycle shop who was constantly engaging us in conversation. After meeting with more Rotarians and the press we were escorted to the hostel of an engineering college where we were put up thanks to the Rotract club.