The Thekkady diary

June 26, 2016

Reached the resort by 2 pm. Beautiful property that was the erstwhile Taj group property. The drive from Allepey was scenic too. Lovely backwaters all the way and then a short climb to reach Thekkady. Our longest stay is here in this resort. Saw the room.. its nice with a kitchenette, a little smaller than what we had at Munnar. There are jackfruit trees all around and the view outside is stunning.

I made some rice and we ate with Nair’s podi. Have to get the recipe from him because its really tasty. There is a lot of space and a small sit out to dry clothes, so Amma is happy.

June 27, 2016

It is raining constantly and Krishnan and I just managed to walk a short distance towards the market. None of the stores were open and finally we managed to find one mini departmental store open. We got some groceries there and on the way back we bought a “puttu” from one of the restaurants.

I made some pongal for breakfast, but the Kerala Matta rice tasted slightly different. Have to find red raw rice rather than the boiled rice that is used by the locals. We also drank some water melon juice. I had bought these water melons at Munnar and one of them was spoilt … and one of them was really tasty. Funny that I had not noticed the cuts on one of the watermelons.

For lunch Amma made rice, Morkuzhambu and beetroot subzi. Morkuzhambu because one of the curd pouches that Krishnan bought yesterday was sour and fit to be turned into great tasting Morkuzhambu.

We just stayed in the room today for the rest of the day. The good news is Airtel 3g dongle works here so we don’t have to worry about our coaching training call and any other internet dependent work we have. I managed to post a few blogs and that always make me feel happy. We also sent our sample calls to Peter so he can play it on Friday incase internet doesn’t work for us.

We connected with Mr. Narasimhan to figure out if we can meet with the weaving clusters at Dindugul and share about ShikshaDaan with them. We got in touch with Mr. Rao and we will be going over to Dindugul on the 30th.

June 28, 2016

Its raining today too… but we still went out for our walk. We just delayed our walk so that the shops would open. 

The beautiful mango grove on the way from the Club Mahindra resort to the town’s main road

Made my favorite Sabudana khichadi for breakfast. Yesterday we were told that the shops open around 9. We went on the main road and just kept walking till the very end of the road where it turns towards Munnar and the straight road goes towards Dindugul etc. We bought some red raw rice and Krishnan managed to draw some money from the ATM.

We were about to turn back when I saw this fruit shop at the corner and he had a huge stock of pineapples. We stepped in and bought pineapples and mangoes and as always we got talking to the owner. He told us where to get the banana chips and showed us the vegetable store as well. We went and got the vegetables and then took an auto back to Club Mahindra since it didn’t stop raining at all. The auto took a different route to get back and it was just a little shorter than the road we had taken. We must try this out tomorrow for our walk as it makes a full circle nearly.

June 29, 2016

Breakfast was dosas made with coconut oil – heavenly. For lunch Amma made Drumstick sambar and Potato subzi which I didn’t eat. I had some of the mangoes and bananas.

For dinner we had Tomato soup without cashew powder.

Slept early as we have to go to Dindugul tomorrow.

June 30, 2016

What an amazing day of learning !! We also heard about the challenges with our 12A and 80G application for ShikshaDaan…. I alternated between feeling really angry and being calm. Have to find a way to resolve this.

Beautiful views on the way from Thekkady to Theni , as we drive downhill.
The ubiquitous Jackfruit. …

For breakfast we stopped at the Green Kitchen family restaurant located on the Cumbum road, NH36, Theni. The food was outstanding as was the restaurant – spotlessly clean and smiling servers, mostly women.

The meeting with the weavers at Dindigul and Chinalampatti was awesome and it was great to meet with Mr. Rao. Such nice people. The fun was meeting up with Mr. Rao – the directions he gave and where we were was the same place but we were telling each other different landmarks.

We may have to meet the children of the weavers again another time as the parents are not able to take the decisions regarding their education.

July 1, 2016

We woke up early and it was raining so didn’t go out today. Just took the day off as we had to process what we had learnt yesterday. For breakfast we had pineapple juice and poha.

Spoke to Ashutosh from buddy4study to figure out how we can get the children of the weavers onto the platform and avail of the scholarships. We have figured out a way to do this and we called up Mr. Rao to find out if another meeting can be organized where we can meet the children as well. He will confirm tomorrow after speaking to the cooperative’s managers.

Krishnan called up our friend Krishnan at Madurai to see if he will have time to come and help these students. We have also reached out to a few other sources to find volunteers who can speak well in Tamil but are well versed with the internet and can help these students to fill out their details. 

For lunch we had Amma’s favorite potato curry made with onions and tomatoes and chappati.

Krishnan and I got ourselves ready for the two and half hour coaching training call in the evening. Had a great session and learnt many things. We managed to complete the homework at night and slept late.

July 2, 2016

Woke up late today as we stayed up late last night. Since it was bright and sunny, we went out for a walk. Just as we were leaving Shiv, a beneficiary of Shikshadaan called. He has managed to get admission to IIT, Ropar and needed help with the admission fees. We also took the clothes that had to be ironed and gave it to one of the roadside “istri-wallah”. His name is Murugan. Then we walked on a little bit more and decided to have breakfast at the Marwari, Jain restaurant which is just after the Bamboo grove. As we were having breakfast, Prabhat called and generously agreed to help Shiv by paying the admission fees.

These bell shaped flowrs grow everywhere .. and in some 5 or 6 colours

These are some kind of wild flowers. Looked so beautiful that I couldnt resist getting a pic.

The food at Karthika Marwari restaurant is quite good. We continued our walk all the way till the end of the main thoroughfare and stopped at our favorite fruit seller’s shop. He was not there, but his nephew was. We bought some pineapples and then each of us got a tender coconut cut for us. There was nearly half a litre of tender coconut water inside each and really sweet !

From there we turned right into the lane that takes you to the bus stand and then all the way to the junction from where Club Mahindra is just 100 metres. We stopped at an old lady’s stall to pick up some jumbo sized lemons and then at a vegetable seller’s shop to buy some vegetables. We got string beans and snake gourd. The lady at the counter was hesitant to take out “the” particular snake gourd that I wanted saying all the others will fall off … I nearly told her to just keep it and was about to move out. She relented finally and we bought a long one.

Beautiful orange coloured China Rose in full bloom

While walking back to Club Mahindra, Murugan came by on his scooter and told us that all our clothes were ironed and ready to be picked up. We dropped off Amma at the room and I picked up one more sari that had to be ironed and we went again to the roadside ironing shop of Murugan’s. His brother was ironing and we gave him the extra sari and then went to search for Vidya’s spice drops. The store selling them hadn’t opened still, so we got back and got talking to Murugan, his brother and another friend of theirs Ajith. Murugan’s brother went to an English medium school and got no further than the 12th. Since he didn’t get many jobs he started to iron clothes. Ajith’s family has a tea estate, but since business wasn’t good, they all started driving taxis and doing tourist tours. Ajith started his degree in Mechanical Engg and then dropped off to do his hotel management from the government college at Munnar. He works at a hotel in Thekkady during the tourist season and the rest of the time he drives a taxi. One of his friends took an educational loan from a bank for the mechanical engg program and now is struggling to repay the loan that has doubled with interest …. Yet another sad story of a young boy studying engineering when he probably doesn’t have the aptitude for it.

On the way back we checked out the Kerala govt. run tourist office and they have a few treks and the bamboo rafting that we are interested in. Will try some of them over the next couple of days.

For lunch we had the balance of the drumstick sambar and paruppu usuli made with the string beans.

After a short nap, we started to work on ShikshaDaan. Krishnan wrote down the requirements for a scholarship in Tamil and sent it over to Mr. Rao so that it could be shared with the weaving community at Dindugul and Chinnalapatti. We also heard from Mr. Rao that the weavers and their children can be met again next Sunday to get them all registered on buddy4study. We now have to re-evaluate our plans to see how to fit that meeting in.

For dinner we had pumpkin soup and today I didn’t forget my cashew powder so the soup was creamy and even more tastier !

Good day today.

July 3, 2016

Amma, Krishnan and I went for a walk inside the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Its nearly 6 kms of walk from the entrance till the bus stop and the scenery is stunning. We got lucky and even saw wild Bison.

On our way back, we caught the Bison herd dashing across from one side to the other and of course we saw several types of monkeys and an interesting large squirrel. Great walk and full of memories for Krishnan as he, Nachi, Kannan and Sridhar had walked the same road 30 years back with no lights and no security of daylight!!

The beautiful winding road inside the Periyar reserve
The wild bison herd crossing from one side to the other.

We were exhausted so stopped at the Dosa joint to have some dosas before getting back to the room.

July 4, 2016

Celebrated US Independence day by staying in, watching monkeys outside the first floor reception area and watching movies.

Cluster figs , at the Club Mahindra resort

July 5, 2016

Went for a walk and met Latif (our fruit shop owner) outside his shop. We went and got some dry fruits from the shop nearby and then came back to his place. 

Asked him about appams, idiyappams and puttu. He told us about this lady who makes these things at home and only veg. We waited in his shop having tender coconut and buying pineapples. Got the stuff a little late by 10 am and then walked back to the hotel.

Breakfast – WORLD’s BEST appams, idiyappam and puttu…. haven’t tasted anything half as nice as these ones anywhere.

July 6, 2016

Poha for breakfast. The watermelon that Latif had given was not fully ripe. Today is Eid celebration in Kerala. All shops were closed even our favorite super market. We went out for a walk with Amma and she returned half way since it was soggy and wet courtesy the rains last night. Ganesh, Murugan’s brother told us that he will shut his ironing shop by 12, so we also returned with Amma and got the clothes for ironing to him. Went and got imli, instant rotis etc from the other super market that was open.

We decided to go and visit the place that Latif had told us about. So we called him around 2 pm and he came as well. The location is beautiful. Spent some time there and got back to the room. The orphanage was open but no one opened the gate so we couldn’t go in.

A huge banyan tree is the identifier for this spot …. its peaceful and really beautiful views

Amma had made “kootu” with the snake gourd and we had that with the instant roti for lunch.

July 7, 2016

Wished Shanthi and Sanjay Bhatnagar on their birthday. Had already informed Latif about our breakfast order, so went around 9.30 to his shop. Krishnan went with Latif to get the food, while I was incharge of Latif’s shop.

We also got the repaired umbrella back. Great job done on it. So we left the other two umbrellas also to be repaired.

Ate awesome appams, idiyappams and puttu again for breakfast. Then continued my packing. Loaded one set before 12 noon. It has been drizzling on and off. Krishnan went and spoke to about 50 Club Mahindra employees around 11.20, I continued to pack and didn’t go with him. Great response for Krishnan’s session. We need to find a way to get a helpdesk that can answer questions after we leave a location.

For lunch we ate the balance of the breakfast and yesterday’s poha. The instant rotis were eaten for dinner.

Went around 4 pm to get the coconut oil. The lady selling it was so pretty. It smells great and its so pure. Came back and said goodbye to Latif. We must stay in touch with him, he is a good man.

Walked back to the room and completed the rest of the packing. When we tried to load at night, it started to rain so it got delayed a bit and then we finally loaded everything by 9 pm.

July 8, 2016

Woke up by 4.30 am.

Started at 7 am from Thekkady. Had breakfast again at Green Kitchen and reached Grand Estancia, Salem by 12.30.