Monday, February 17, 2014

Day 30 : 4 Feb 2014 : Kasargod to Kannur : 100 kms

Ladies on the way to the temple...

At the Anand Ashram along with Guruji..

At Anand Ashram.

At meeting organised by the North Malabar Chambers of Commerce..

At meeting organised by the North Malabar Chambers of Commerce..

OMG!! Cycling in Kerala is impossible!! We heard the statistics. In the rest of India, the minimum width of the highways are supposed to be 65 ft, but in Kerala, the actual width is only 30 ft!!!!! Can you imagine how much space there would be for cyclists?? NOTHING!! And what is worse, is that the bus drivers are so rash. We had one accident and had 2 more near accidents. A bus driver pushed Shanti off the road and hit her as well. She fell onto the road. There was a truck behind the bus which braked and just missed running over her. We were all so shocked that we decided no more cycling in Kerala, at least not the entire duration. We had planned Kutch to Kerala and that we have already done. And we definitely do not need any accidents in the last leg of the journey.

We found out the Anand Ashram was on the way and decided to take a break and visit the Ashram. It was lovely. We spent about 2 hours at the Ashram and the guruji there spent 45 mins with us talking about life as well as explaining to us the new concepts that they have in education where they want to teach children about their duties towards the country. It was lovely spending time with him and also at the Ashram. Had lovely lunch there and then loaded all our cycles onto the truck and drove to Kannur. As we got outside Kannur, we unloaded our cycles again and cycled to the North Malabar Chamber of Commerce. We then heard that the stretch that we cycled on has officially (as of 10 years ago and more so now) been declared the most busy stretch of road in all of India!! Hahaha, another feather in our cap. We joked that if we managed to cycle on that stretch of road, then we can stop cycling lol...

Stayed at a hotel at the new bus stand. Dinner and accommodation was not sponsored :( Had to pay for it ourselves. But we were comfortable and had a good sleep.

Day 29 : 3 Feb 2014 : Mangalore to Kasargod : 55 kms

Another beautiful sunrise...

Sunrise on the bridge

Entering Kerala!! Last leg...

One of the many receptions on the way...

"I am 1 yr old!! Definitely old enough to ride a cycle", says Vinakay!! :)

Yummy Watermelon... Nikoi, Shanti, Gauri and Bhagvati.

We need more!! Smitha, Soni and Rupa...

Will he catch it or wont he. We were very fascinated with this...

Yummy tender coconut along with Mr Asif in the background.

In the office of Mr Kunil.

Along with the brilliant kids of Kunil School...

We felt that today will be a quick day and that we will be done in no time at all. But it was 4.30 by the time we reached Kasargod. That was because we had to make 6 stops on the way to interacted with various groups on way to Kasargod. We spent time at the Kunil school kids at Uppala as well as Kumbla and we were astonished at the enthusiasm of the children (School run by Mr Kunil, who we had lunch with yesterday). First of all, we have to mention that the school itself is extremely modern and in a small place like that, the school has all facilities that a large school in a metro would have. We were so impressed with the children, especially the girls. They were so eager and proactive and showed so much interest in our expedition. They asked us lots of questions, all very intelligent questions. Most people have not asked questions like this in the past 1 month. We were amazed at their English and the way that they interacted with us. It was a great experience.

Apart from this we also went to the House of Mr Asif, where we had the sweetest tender coconut ever. There were 2 other groups that we met with and then also went to a Kendriya Vidhyalaya School on the way where they had organised a function for us. The day felt never ending and the heat and humidity made it tougher.

But in all, we had a good time. Stayed at a nice hotel at Kasargod, again organised by Mr Kunil. The Rotary team visited us in the evening and we had a good dinner with them. Slept well :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 27, 28 : 1, 2 Feb 2014 : Manipal - Karkala - Mangalore

At the house of Mr Kunil and Mrs Zubeida

Outside Sonia Clinic with the Rotary team as they say bye to us..

Cdr Ramachandran at NITTE

The team at NITTE

The team on the stage at NITTE

Along with the young skaters

Outside the hospital..

The team of Roshini Nilaya welcoming us

People welcome us...

At Roshini Nilaya

Tree planting at Roshini Nilaya

Kids perform for us

We were supposed to cycle to Mangalore, but the students at KS Hegde Institute of Management, NITTE, decided that we should take rest and sent a bus to Sonia Clinic at 7am. We had an hr and half long journey to the college campus, where we had breakfast at the Girl’s hostel. This was followed by a lovely session at their auditorium with the students. The Director of the institute was present as was Cdr Ramachandran who has been instrumental in arranging our logistics at Karkala and Mangalore. He summarised our expedition beautifully. We introduced our team and our purpose and Maj Ashwini gave a presentation about Everest.

We had the rest of the day free and managed to get some sight seeing done. We visited the Bahubali in Karkala and a beautiful church. Peaceful dinner and sleep followed.

The next day we decided to head into Mangalore earlier than was planned. We were invited for lunch to the residence of a friend – Mr Kunil and Mrs Zubeida. As we entered the gate of their house, we were wonder-stuck at the beauty of their house. I think it is the most beautiful house that any of us have ever seen. Most of the outer walls are made of glass and since the house is on a hill, one gets a view of entire Mangalore from there. Not only that, she had cooked amazing food for us and this was followed by the famous Gadbad icecream. Friends of theirs brought gadbad for all of us and came to meet with us. It was such a wonderful afternoon.

And the day was not over.. We had a lot more to come. We unloaded our cycles at Karnataka Polytechnic and went to Mangalore Skating Club. And there we saw the 28 skaters who were supposed to skate with us for about 5 kms. The skaters were from the age group of 6 to 20 and the little ones were so so cute.. and they were all in tights and helmets and looked like little angles. We cycled behind them while the parents and organisers managed the traffic. As we reached Father Muller Hospital, we were greeted by a band and many students holding banners and shouting slogans. We walked from there to Roshani Nilaya, where a function was planned.

As we reached Roshani Nilaya, we were greeted by ladies holding aarati plates and flowers. We were taken for tree planting and then there was a group that did a folk dance for us. We then entered the auditorium and sat on the dias. A grand function followed and there was a long question and answer session after that.

Dinner and sleep at Roshani Nilaya was nice. As we finished dinner, Cdr Ram and his wife Jayanti again brought gadbad and tiramisu ice creams for the entire lot of us. OMG! We ate 2 huge ice creams in one day... :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day 26 : 31 Jan 2014 : Shiroor to Manipal : 75 kms

Yet another stunning sunrise...

On the bridge. Everyone clicking the sunrise..

Cyclists on the beach...



Tataningo Galore!!!

At Sonia Clinic with our hosts!!! What amazing hospitality...

Inauguration of the Rotary function..

Dr Girija addressing the gathering

The crowd..

Honouring Vasumathi

Surprise 1st Yr birthday party for Vinayak along with an amazed Maj Ashwini...

They gave a lovely birthday gift also...

The entire lot!!!

Lots of pics today... Lovely day thanks to our hosts!!

As soon as we got out of Green Valley School, there was a long uphill. Luckily that was the only one through this route, except near the end. The team stayed together today and we cycled comfortably (as comfortably as the heat would allows us). At around 8.30 am or so, we got to a spot on the road that was right next to the beach. It was a beautiful stretch and we all took our cycles onto the sand for a round of photography. We were also very hungry by then and opened up the boxes that the school had packed for us – bread and puri and veg..

We took a lot of breaks today. Stopped for Tataningo and once we started eating, we could not stop. We stopped only because he almost ran out of them. Then, just before the turnoff to Manipal, we stopped again for Sugarcane juice.

As we entered Manipal and climbed the hill, we were amazed to see that the hill on which Manipal is situated, is dominated with huge multi-storey buildings. We definitely did not expect that. We were hosted by the Rotary and were staying in the houses of Dr Girija, Dr Gauri and Mrs Sheela. We were, once again, overwhelmed with the love and support of people who do not even know us. I must mention here that we found the email id of Dr Girija, President Rotary Manipal-Udupi, on the net and sent a blind email to her. She was so proactive, that within 2 hours, we got a call back from her and she had arranged everything for us. She even helped us get accommodation at Karwar.

They arranged for us to visit the Krishna temple at Udupi and then had a grand function at the Rotary building. They even gifted us with bags, t-shirts and sashes. We made our presentation to the group and it was great interacting with the Rotarians, Rotracters etc. This was followed by dinner and sleep at our respective houses.

Day 25 : 30 Jan 2014 : Kumta to Shiroor : 75 kms

Welcome at the School..

The Gopuram of the temple at Murudeshwar

The second largest Shiva Statue in the world (dont know which is the largest though)

Shiva!!! Anita, Nikoi, Krishna

Each day brings with it something surprising and beautiful and today it was Murudeshwar, which has the second largest Shiva statue in the world. Today is also the birthday of little Vinayak and it is his first birthday... Happy birthday Vinayak!!! I’m sure his dad and sis are missing him...

We started off as usual around 6.30 am (we’ve been waiting for it to get a little brighter so as to avoid dangers on the road) and the road was more or less flat. Did not really have too many uphills like we have been all these days. There have been mild ups and downs, but nothing touch. Half the team went off ahead, as they were used to it through the ghats and the other half stayed back with the slower members. When the rear team reached near Murudeshwar, initially we just continued ahead as we just wanted to reach our destination early. But we saw that the temple was only 2 kms from the main road and we could see the tall Gopuram as well as the Shiva Statue from the Highway and decided to make the detour. We figured another hour will not really bother us. And we were so happy that we made that decision. The location of Murudeshwar is amazingly beautiful. The temple is situated on a strip of land that goes out into the ocean and one can see the ocean all around.

After a quick darshan we headed back towards the main road and started cycling. The Faster group had already reached Green Valley School, Shiroor, by that time. It took us another 2 hours to reach (also because we had to take a 45 mins break to speak with a reporter who met us in Bhatkal).

This school took our breath away. The truly international ambience in the middle of nowhere. Green Valley School Shiroor, is headed by Mr John Matthew and his wife Mrs Mathew and both of them are such wonderful people with a great vision. We spent a lot of time with them and it was a pleasure.

As soon as we reached, we finished a quick lunch and immediately had a presentation for the children. They were all very impressed with the team and the presentation that was made and a lot of them came up and spoke with us after.

We stayed at the girls hostel and felt like we were living in 5 star luxury. Great food and great hospitality.

Day 24 : 29 Jan 2014 : Karwar to Kumta : 71 kms

Outside the house of Dr Kumud and Mr Nayar before we cycled off early morning...

On the way to Kumta

In Principal Hampiholi's office

Smitha addressing the students

Prof Shanbagh, Principal and the team.. Students sitting behind..

Maj Ashwini's presentation on her climb up Mt Everest

After the presentation.

The differences that we saw as soon as we entered Karnataka: 
  1. The people were much more curious about us. Everywhere we stopped, and even on the road, people kept asking us what we are doing and why we are cycling. 
  2. The children in Karnataka are much more proactive. They are waving at us even before we can wave at them. We found that the kids in Maharashtra refused to wave at us (especially groups of girls) even when we waved at them. Here, almost all children looking at us are smiling and waving. 
  3. We found a big difference in the way people give us instructions about slopes. In Maharashtra, people would say, ”Road is flat. No uphills at all”. And we would find that there is one uphill after another. In Karnataka, people said, ”Very steep slope is there ahead”. And we found that it was just a small slope that was over before we could start sweating... 

The route out of Karwar is one of the most picturesque that we have encountered so far. The view of the ocean, the greenery of the hills and the winding roads transported us to a completely different world. As the days progress, the heat is increasing gradually and it is getting more and more difficult to cycle after 10 am. But we are on a mission. So we just put our heads down, drink more water and continue cycling.

We stayed at the AV Baliga College of Arts and Science and were looked after by the NCC Cadets of the school. We were greeted on the main road (at around 2 pm) by Professor Shangbagh and his team of NCC Cadets who then escorted us to the college. As we entered the college, we were very surprised to see that they have such a huge campus – 32 acres of space. Unfortunately, the land that the college stands on is not really conducive to plants and trees, and most of the space is barren. The college is attempting to make the place greener so as to provide more shade to the students, but it will take a while.

We spent some time with the Principal Mr Hampiholi, and had a presentation at the college for the students in the afternoon. It is always nice to meet with the students and share thoughts and ideas with them and we hope that more of them will take up the cause of the environment. We had some lovely food at the college canteen and a nice stay at the campus.