The Palakkad Coimbatore National Highway No 47 is one of the busiest freeways in India. The gateway to God’s own country, this high road would seem to be one of the oddest places to have an Alive is Awesome experience. But hey, I have experienced it here too….
Photo from my personal album
© Nidheesh Narayanan
The third semester of MBA was a good one to start with. The seniors had gone. The juniors have come in. Life in post graduation was looking a lot more cool and alive. Along with the above joys came the glory of being a major office bearer for the Students Development Council (SDC).
Once such activity of the SDC, was scheduled for the early days of June 2004. This being the first programme conducted by the new association, the college management decided to invite a senior government official from Palakkad to inaugurate the function (I tried to recall his name and designation, but could not. Eight years may be a jiffy in the journey of time, but it seems long enough for me to forget certain names and labels). Since the person was important, the college designated me and Cino, as the Secretary and President of the SDC respectively, to directly go to Palakkad and invite the bigwig.
Normal mode of travel from college to Palakkad would be by the buses operated by the State Transport Corporations of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, but the journey would be there could be very prickly as the buses, once it reaches the stop near our college would already be very crowded. Cino, being a connoisseur biker, decided to pick his Hero Honda Splendour and traverse west to Palakkad. I was not quite an enthusiast at this, as I was quite nervous at riding bikes, both in the driver’s seat or as pillion rider, but nevertheless, being part of the assemblage, I decided to set aside my apprehensions and take the back seat on the bike.
It was in the late days of May, and the sky in Coimbatore was hot and humid as usual. There was not a single speck of dark cloud in the heavens. So we were all ready to move, quite ignorant of the fact that once we cross the Ghats across to Kerala, it would be a different season altogether. The monsoons were supposed to hit the shores of God’s own country any moment, and we were riding down without any helmet, cap or umbrella, without an iota of thought about this.
It was quite normal drive till Walayar, which was the border between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Till here, it was the same dry climate of Coimbatore, and once we entered Malayalee territory, we could feel the climate shifting around us. The breeze started getting cooler and the atmosphere darker. For 3pm in the afternoon, it was unusually dark.
I just glanced towards the heavens, and I could see the rain Gods building up ammunition in the form of dark, fully loaded clouds. This was where I suddenly realised that it was the onset of monsoon in Kerala, and towards the end of May, it was going to be the first monsoon showers of 2004.
It was kind of perplexity for me. I loved the rains, monsoon, but the chance of getting wet during a bike ride on unfamiliar road was not quite an intriguing idea for me.
“There’s always a period of curious fear between the first sweet-smelling breeze and the time when the rain comes cracking down.”
Lest, to be a little prepared, I asked Cino to stop the bike for a moment, telling him I need to catch a drink. Stopping on, somewhere near Kanjikode, I picked up a drink of tender coconut from a wayside shop. My actual interest was not the drink, but to get hold of a plastic bag to cover my head in case the rain comes down.
I bothered to collect just one plastic bag and stuffed it into the pocket of my shirt. And we continued our journey. Just about half a minute into the drive, I could feel the weather getting heavier and heavier. Before I could realise, Cino slowed down the bike and grabbed the plastic bag from my pocket. In a flash, he put his mobile in the bag and asked me to do the same, and put it down in the carrier in front of the bike, so that it does not get sick.
“Buddy, these are expensive models – they are costlier than us. Nothing should happen to these”
Unlike at present, there was a lot of concern for mobiles those days. Even Nokia 3310’s were costlier than today’s smart phones.
So, my only hope for not getting wet gone, I was ready for the impending downpour. Another concern for us was the lack of shelter around. There were no bus stops, shops or any place of significance where we could stop and seek asylum from the impending drizzle.
Then, swiftly it came down upon us. I could feel a bushel of weight over me. Yes, the first monsoon of the season had descended on us, and expecting the unexpected, God’s greatest gift to nature was being showered on us with full fury.
Anyone who has been in Kerala during the arrival of monsoon would know how powerful the first showers of May-June are. And its power in full throttle, coupled with the ride on bike, on a rutted road – there could not have been so alive and awesome feeling ever. Each and every drop of the rain, when it hit the face, was like pin pricking into flesh. It was a different kind of pain, which I had never known till then. Nevertheless, there was something soothing in the pain – a soothing effect of the love and power of nature.
The feeling of agony turned to ecstasy. I was enjoying the wonderful ride on the back seat of the bike – feeling the full fury of nature on me, and the next fifteen kilometres of the ride was one of the best drives of my life – with eyes closed, rain on the face, I was enjoying heaven on earth – truly alive, truly awesome.
The Alive is Awesome experience lasted till we reached Palakkad. And by the time our work there was done and we crossed back to Tamil Nadu in the evening, back to the dry, desiccated environment again, I was saying a silent prayer, to God – for showering his paramount bequest on us – for giving us the true Alive is Awesome feeling.
Yes – the monsoons – it’s truly Alive, truly Awesome.
Photo from my personal album
© Nidheesh Narayanan
This post is written for Cinthol’s new Alive is Awesome marketing campaign.
For the link to my previous post on Monsoon Magic, click here.