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Uphill

 

WayanadThe clouds hovered intimidatingly close and oozed out through my skin in copious perspiration. I did not feel the usual enthusiasm when we climbed the pass from Thamarassery to Lakkidi. The oppressive heat of the plains, the pollution and traffic at Calicut, the long journey and the hurried nature of the visit – even though we were coming back after a hiatus of 5 years – all of that put me in a bleak and restless mood.

The rain exploded on us just as we reached Lakkidi. Wipers swayed frantically to sweep off the cascade that flowed over the windshield.  World was a blur of green and grey for half an hour; then the rain stopped just as suddenly as it had arrived. The sky had cleared by the time we reached Vythiri. Sun was blazing again in all glory turning the inside of the car into a furnace. There were small muddy rapids beside the road; the pot holes were full and sloshing; sun light glinted sharply off wet leaves.

This had been the pattern of rainfall for the past couple of years in Kerala. It never rained steadily anymore during monsoon. Instead, it rained intermittently – brief spells of rain followed by sunshine and an accompanying sweaty heat. Rain did not sink into the soil replenishing ground water. When summer came there were droughts, something unheard of in Kerala, except in and around Palakkad.

The catchment area of Banasura dam was devoid of water except for a few insipid pools. Cows grazed in the barren floor on small patches of grass which must have sprung up after the onset of monsoon. Normal showers were expected this year, yet monsoon was indolent even though it was mid June.

At Korom our hosts plied us with flavoured tea and biscuits. Sitting on the verandah and gazing over the panorama of peaks and valleys splashed in green I eventually got over my gloom. The evening breeze was fragrant with a pleasant chill. For the moment I was deeply content.

Thanima

Someone mentioned a local store at Kalpetta which sold forest products. The shop “Thanima” turned out to be a treasure trove.There were different varieties of honey (squeezed out with bare hands from the honeycombs) – Cheru Then & Puttu Then (honey from holes in the ground); types of rice which I had never heard of – Mula Ari (bamboo rice) and Gandhakasala Ari; there was Naruneendi Sarbath; there were crunchy ginger flakes laced with sugar – a panoply of interesting stuff. The shopkeeper was quite knowledgeable and did not mind showing it off, even giving us tips on cooking some of the things we bought.

Thanima Contact Info

Our visit was brief and intense, just like the sporadic but pounding rain, but the flavours of Wayanad lingers as we dip into the honey and ginger crumbs each day…

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