Saturday, April 27, 2013

A cycle, a dream come true and a reconnection to the village..

Disappointment and disapproval marked the faces of my mother, my brother and the neighbours in the village when I announced my intention to buy a cycle.  They expected me to buy a fancy foreign car, after having retired from the Foreign Service. Against the resistance of everyone, I have bought the cycle and drive around the village, confirming their suspicion that after such long years of being out of India I have become out of touch and out of fashion...

I am the odd guy who goes around leisurely and purposelessly in a cycle while the others zoom around in TVS, Bajaj, and Hero Honda motor bikes giving me a curious look and exchanging jokes and comments.

They do not know the real secret behind my obsession for this acquisition. Buying a cycle is fulfilling a childhood dream for me. When I was a kid, I wanted a cycle to go to school and college. But I could not afford one, Not a big deal.. None of my friends had cycle in those days. We walked to the school three kms to the west for six years and three kms east to the college for four years. 

Now that I have my own cycle, I go around every day morning for 2-3 hours covering about 20 kms. I discover many nooks and corners of the villages around. I feel reconnected to the land which has provided livelihhood to my ancestors and even now to my brother who cultivates about ten acres. When I pass by the kids who walk to the school with dreams in their eyes, I turn nostalgic.  When I see the kids working in the fields or grazing the cattle, I feel lucky that I had escaped to a world of magical realism thanks to the accidental entry into the diplomatic service.  

I have found a few scenic cycle routes. There is the MOPAM circuit passing through Mangudi, Oovanoor, Pullambadi, Anandapuram ( I surprised my brother with the name of this tiny hamlet of a dozen adobe huts- He did not know) and Mullal. The other circuit is STAPS - Sembarai, Thinniyam, Anbil, Poondi and Sengraiyur. I am determined to discover more such routes during my next trip to the village.

The routes are picturesque with fields of rice, sugarcane, bananas, cotton, corn, sesame seeds and coconut farms. Palm and tamarind trees are on either side of the road in some places. There are streams and rivers and of course, Kollidam, the biggest river, although there is no water since it is summer now. Peacocks dart from one side to the other part of the road near Nandhiar river. 

Here are some pictures of the scenic routes:

Cotton field between Mangudi and Oovanoor..

Mud road from Oovanoor to Mullal..

Rest Stop- coconut, banana, mango and lemon trees..

Sugar cane fields with coconut trees around

The routes have several textures.. mud, gravel, stones, tar and just walking paths in some places. Here is one semi tar and gravel road..

Temples are there at many street corners and roadsides. Here is a roadside temple known as Ponninji Ariyanar Koil in Mullal

Tamarind trees forming a beautiful canopy and giving shade to the cyclist..

The lonely rider...