Ending the Year with a Trek to Tadiandamolย 

It was 6.30 am and we were welcomed by a chilly 13 degree morning, dew filled greens and the slender rays of sun gently caressing the hilltops. I pulled my sweater around me tightly and tried to suppress the rising chatter of my teeth in the morning chill. The first thing that caught my attention was the abundance of greenery. On one side, the landscape descended to reveal trees of various shapes and sizes while on the other side, it ascended, teeming with coffee plants bearing ripe, red coffee cherries.

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It was a splash of reds and browns against fresh, dark, lush greens.

The Coffee Cherries. The seeds are coffee beans.

As we explored the dew kissed plants, I had begun to feel a sense of belonging in this pretty home in the town called Virajpet.

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This is where I spent my New Year. Right from the beginning, I was determined not to spend my new year in Bangalore, fighting the traffic, getting groped, struggling for space and struggling with the deafening noise in a pub or holing up in my room. I wanted to leave Bangalore and go somewhere peaceful and closer to nature. After days of hunting for trips and facing disappointments, I found a package for Tadiandamol trek.

Traveling and me

I am not an avid traveler and I don’t see myself becoming a globe trotter in future. But I’d like myself some new sights and experiences once in a while. As a child, I haven’t traveled at all. Tours and excursions were a rarity in our family. I used to yearn to go on long vacations like my friends, but that just didn’t happen. Instead, I found those adventures and new friendships in the books I read. Hence, this was a beginning for me where the world of traveling opened itself before me.

The Beginning

Our group comprised of five of us; my sister Devu, my friend Balu, my colleague N, a friend of hers and myself. We boarded the bus that was arranged by the tour operators by 11pm and soon we were joined by the rest of the party who had signed up for the trip.

Our group. All set to scale the mountains. 

We reached the homestay by 6.30 am. It belonged to an amiable, friendly lady named Ponnamma. In the little span of time I got to know her, she seemed like a loving, motherly warden in a hostel; the kind that every child would love. We freshened up, had breakfast and left for the trekking point. We had to travel for about an hour to reach the base point or our trek. The path was filled with trees and the road was long and winding. 

Tadiandamol Trek

Tadiandamol is the highest Mountain in the Kodagu/Coorg district and the 3rd highest in Karnataka. It forms a part of the Western Ghats. It doesn’t look that tall does it? But it was pretty tiring for a beginner. 

The peak on the right was the one we set out to conquer

We reached the base A by 11 am. Our trek was supposed to begin at the next level, Base B, which was about 1.5 Kms farther. As there weren’t any Jeeps available, we had to start from point A. This meant that we were about to cover about 7Kms. I, being a beginner sans any kind of physical exercise, had no idea what that meant.

Since it was December, the weather was cool, the path was dusty and deprived of any water content. This meant zero leeches (Yay!). The initial ascend was interspersed with sunny, dry paths, dusty mountain sides, and cool shady woods flanked by tall trees and thick shrubs. I would lag behind as I walked into the woods, clicking pictures, examining beautiful spots that were formed out of roots of age old trees. We sped up once the flora reduced and the redness of the land enveloped us.

The beauty of standing out, being unique, not fitting in...
The beauty of standing out, being unique, not fitting in…

After about 3 Kms, by when we had crossed base B, we had left the woods behind and were climbing up the bare mountain. We passed areas with red slippery soil, we climbed boulders, we dodged groups of tiny stones that waited for unsuspecting trekkers. One wrong foot and they’d roll you down. We were sure footed but slow, and I aced at the slow race. ๐Ÿ˜›

The summit looked closer but it kept moving farther as we moved. When about a Km or so was left, I decided to give up. Not because I was tired, but because the path was steeper, more slippery, the land assured you no grip and I am an over-thinker. Before I placed a foot, I thought a thousand times whether it was the right step, of what would happen if it weren’t.

I looked at the summit, not so longingly. I had come this far. But it didn’t matter to me if I did not finish it. My life mattered more than my determination to conquer a peak. I was sure of that. I asked Devu and Balu to go on and that I’d wait. They weren’t leaving without me. They needed double the courage; for themselves and for me and they had it for all of us. After that tricky bit of land, I was more pumped up and we soon reached the Summit, exhausted but contented.

It was about 2.30 pm, quite hot with the sun beaming a bit too strongly and the view was good. If I am to give my honest opinion, I was a bit disappointed. I think I expected cool breeze, mist and lots and lots of greens or colors, but most of it looked dry as opposed to my expectations. Maybe the noon and the heat sort of spoilt it. It wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t magnificent either. I loved the walk through the woods with tiny streams cutting across the path more. I absolutely loved it and if I had known what was coming, I’d have rather explored the winding paths that led into the dark shola forests. I am more of a forest person than a mountain person.IMG_20171231_150205_01.jpg

We had our lunch and began our descend. I remember discussing how the descend was worse as the gravity joined the cunning stones to pull us down. At one point of time, they succeeded! I fell, first on all fours, scraped my knee, and my palms. My hands were burning for a long time, but I had no scratches whatsoever. I had made myself a washed out, torn jeans (on the knee) that I could now sell for double the price. ๐Ÿ˜›

I was slow on the descend too. Once the steep, hilly areas were done, we felt a sense of accomplishment. We completed the remaining trek thirsty, hungry, muscles screaming in pain and happy. It was the last day of 2017 and it couldn’t have been better. The return trek was only about 5.5 Kms as we got the Jeep from point B.

The jeep ride reminded me of Kareena Kapoor’s dialogue from Jab We Met. ‘Bas Bhagwan. Ab aur excitement mat do. Boring bana lo is din ko.’ It was cramped with 10 people apart from the driver, the road was way too bumpy and by the end of the trip, my head was lumpy. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Palace, New Year, Namdroling Monastery and Home

While we awaited the bus, we visited a Palace nearby. We then walked to where the bus was parked and on the way, had juicy tender coconut and watermelon. The store owners knew Malayalam as Coorg is very close to Kannur. They were happy to see some of us speaking the tongue and enquired our whereabouts. After some chitchats, we made our way back.

Even though we were exhausted, we shooed our pains in the steaming hot water and prepared ourselves for the campfire. The food arrived, drinks were opened and this was when we got introduced to each other. Most of us were from other parts of the country, but settled in Bangalore. We talked, ate and danced our way into the New Year. We played some games and gradually, one by one disappeared.

Next morning, we packed our bags, bid farewell to our host and left. On the way, we visited the Namdroling Monastery, Mysore which is the largest teaching center of the Nyingma lineage of Tibetan buddhism in the world (Source: Wikipedia). More about it in the next post. It was 10pm by the time we reached Bangalore, having spent one of the best New Years.

‘Mind in peace and body in pieces’ go well with my situation for the next couple of days. Oh and finally I get to strike off Coorg from my travel list. ๐Ÿ™‚

Package Details

Organized by: Escape2Explore + Adventure nation

Rate: 3500+GST per head

Inclusions: 4 Meals, Transportation from and to Bangalore, Accomodation

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I am on the lookout for places to visit near Bangalore. Do leave your suggestions regarding them here. Two day trip spots suggestions are welcome, but I’m specficially looking for Saturday evening to Monday early morning getaways as I work on Saturdays. ๐Ÿ™‚

All You Need to Know About The Something New Everyday Challenge

In my previous post, I had written about the #SomethingNewEverydayChallenge I had taken up in November and the best moments I had due to that. In this post, I will be writing about the benefits and my experiences during the challenge so that you could be well equipped if you want to take it some day.

Before I begin, let me say this once again. I found the challenge very useful.ย I am not the same person I had been a month ago. I have become more productive, focused and reduced the bouts of overthinking I used to do. I am sure you will benefit from this too.

 

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What is Something New Everyday Challenge?

It is self explanatory. You need to do something you haven’t done before or in a long time on each day of the challenge. For instance, trying a new cuisine, a new line of work, learning something new, calling up someone you haven’t called in a long time, starting a new habit etc.

How is it beneficial?

  1. Among these 30 new things you do in a month, you might end up making a positive lifestyle change or a value addition in terms of knowledge or skills.
  2. You might decide to do something you have always wanted to do and had been procrastinating.
  3. You will always be on the lookout for something new and that will keep your day exciting.
  4. You might make some alarming discoveries about yourself.
  5. You will keep yourself busy trying to do something different every day.
  6. One of those 30 things might stay with you forever. In my case, I have a new piercing. ๐Ÿ™‚
  7. By the time you are done with the challenge, ‘looking for something exciting’ might become your attitude towards life.
  8. You might inspire someone to make a positive change in their life.

What is the time span of the challenge?

You could do it for a week, a fortnight, a month or even more. I found that a month was ideal because I gradually got into certain habits I had started. If you need to bring a lifestyle change and make a new habit, a week will not be sufficient, but a month will be ideal.

What if I miss a day?

Don’t panic. No one is monitoring you, but you. If you miss a day, it is alright. Don’t stop taking the challenge. Forget the skipped day and continue.

You don’t have to do great things in every day of 30 days. Something as simple as watching the sunrise or nature is good enough. On one day, I put a new kind of photograph I happened to click. I did a throwback for one day, and I also pulled up a ‘Today’s something new is doing nothing new’. ๐Ÿ˜› There is no hard and fast rule. You set the rules and you bend them as long as there is a balance.

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Should I plan in advance?

Yes please. Make a list of things you really want to do. Pick the ones that are doable in a short span of time. As you take up the challenge, go about your day and try to find simple random new things to do. In between, fix days for those important things in your list. In this manner, you will be doing new things in the course of your day and also will be checking off things from your bucketlist.

My experience and concerns and how I tackled them.

  1. My biggest fear was that I would stop midway. To avoid that, I started planning my days in advance. Sometimes I had things planned for an entire week and that eased my fears.
  2. There were days when I didn’t do anything new and panicked at night. I would take a look back at the day and find something new that I did involuntarily. Through this, I started looking at things I did in a new light instead of considering them to be mundane.
  3. Sometimes I would be too tired to post it on the same day. So I posted a few on the very next day. As I said, there are no hard and fast rules. You can be flexible as long as you are progressing in life.
  4. I am not doing some of the things I started doing the challenge. Do not expect 100% results. Don’t feel upset if you stop doing one or two things you began. If you have had even one long term benefit from this exercise, it is a positive change. It is one step further.

You need to put some effort on this. But the results are totally worth it. You can go through all 30 days of the challenge I took on my instagram account, contact me if you have any questions and I’ll be happy to help.

So what do you think of this challenge? Will you take it up?

My Top 10 Something New Everyday Hits

Imagine your life changing positively in a month. Imagine you looking back at the end of a month and realising that you actually lived it! You did not just work, eat and exist, but you made progress in your personal life. That was November to me.

I had taken up the #SomethingNewEveryday Challenge on Instagram and that made my November very exciting and meaningful. It was an impulsive decision. I did something new on November first and decided to continue it everyday for 30 days. The result? I am not the same person I had been a month ago. I have become more productive, focused and reduced the bouts of overthinking I used to do.

The challenge involved doing something new everyday for 30 days of November. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t well planned but I am happy with the results. Here are my Top 10 Something New everyday hits:

  1. I Made The 100 Things in 1000 days list – A challenge within the challenge. I made a list of things I want to do within the next 1000 days. ๐Ÿ™‚ My sister and I had been planning to make this list since the beginning of 2017. I finally made it only because I had to do something new that dayย and now I intend to see at least one-third of it materialise.
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  2. A New Piercing –ย Something I had been intending to do for about 3 years. My life was taking a new turn and it was now or never. I decided to get it done and that gold trinket on top of my ear is the result of a new piercing that I got done in November. Ain’t it pretty? o:)Capture7.PNG
  3. A Brand New Phone – Another biggie that I had been planning on buying forever. Here is a video of my brand new OnePlus 5 Slate Grey โค I have been using mediocre phones forever and this is the reminder of an achievement – Me clearing CA and getting a job. It is more than just a phone.

4. Moved to Bangalore – Well, that day’s something new was that I woke up in Bangalore. I was rooted to Kochi and this November Challenge made moving to Bangalore easier. I was all teary eyed and whiny in the beginning. But this challenge kept me occupied, excited and happy.

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5. Started Taking Morning Walksย  – After I moved to Bangalore, I used the opportunity to change my lifestyle. The first step was to wake up earlier than usual to go for a morning walk. I thought an investment would make me more responsible and so I purchased a pair of shoes and jogger pants. I still am continuing my morning walks. ๐Ÿ™‚

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6. Meditationย – Another something I have been trying to work on. As though on the Universe’s cue, my sister introduced me to the app called ‘Meditation’. After my morning walks, I spend about 15 minutes in the park meditating.

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7. New Cuisine – For a couple of something new, I tried out new cuisines or delicacies. I went to Taco Bell and tried Tacos and Fajitas for the first time in my life. I also tried the Bombay Kulfi and Ice cream from Coldstone creamery, in spite of not being an ice cream person. Do you know what the Universe told me when I went to Taco Bell?

Said the Universe
Said the Universe

8. Walk in Art Class – I do not go anywhere without planning and most importantly without company. For the first time, I decided to check out the Cubbon Park, and the Pencil and Chai event that was going on there. I walked in, spoke to a bunch of strangers, sat and made a live sketch for the first time!

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9. Changed to Copper Bottle – I have been trying to reduce the usage of plastic and plastic covers. I have also been interested in using copper or clay vessels. As I went to a shop in search of a bottle, this copper bottle happened to me and as a result another something new. Sometimes, new things just happen effortlessly! ๐Ÿ™‚

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10. Met a Blogger and Kept a Friend – Darshith from Smiles Here and Smiles There warmly welcomed me to Bangalore and ensured that I wouldn’t leave for another couple of years. I spent every minute I spent with him and as I left, I was sure that I had made a new friend. ๐Ÿ™‚

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The best things that happened solely because of the challenge are the morning walk and meditation that I still continue. Many of the new things happened on their own accord. The challenge helped me realize them, acknowledge them and be grateful for them. If not for this challenge, I wouldn’t have looked at buying the copper bottle as a positive lifestyle change. I wouldn’t have gone to Cubbon park to experience something new.

The benefits of Something New Everyday did not end with November. Because of my sketching experience in Cubbon park, yesterday I went and purchased a drawing book and pencils. I now, intend to explore the artist in me. This November and the challenge have transformed me no matter how minuscule the change is. I am aware that I have not merely existed. So when life begins to get dull, I will take up this challenge again.

For those who are interested in this challenge and want to know more about it, I will be writing another post on the Dos’ and Donts’ of the challenge next week. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. It would help me with the next week’s post.

So would you like to take up this challenge?

PS – You can see all my #Somethingneweveryday challenge posts in Instagram @afew.handpickedthings. Do follow me to keep in touch. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

From Kochi to Bangalore – A New Journey

The last time I opened this page to write was in Kerala. Now, here I am in Bangalore. There has been a lot of change and with the change of place and routine, I, as a person, am changing too.

After all those CA hassles, crying over exams, peeping in others’ lives, seeing their train move forward at a steady pace and crying over my stagnant one, my train has finally moved too. I am no longer in the studying-writing exams-failing-lamenting station anymore. I am more of in between Yay-I-have-a-job and damn-I-want-to-go-home station. ๐Ÿ˜›

Due to these overwhelming changes, here I am, streamlining my thoughts more for myself than for anyone else. This is also a comeback post of mine and I’ll be trying to blog more frequently from now on. So be prepared for a messy article as I have no clue what I am about to write here.

  1. Why I moved to Bangalore? A job is what brought me here. After a few years of preparing and writing exams, experimenting with jewellery, freelance writing etc, working on a 9 hour job is a bit too strenuous. Definitely better than writing exams after exams with no luck. Even so, suddenly I am unable to find time for doing the things I love to do. For instance, this blog. I am finally able to update this because it is a Sunday. So, I have to accept my work timings whole-heartedly and then work on using the remaining time effectively.
  2. I Miss Home – I have been away from home before. But that was around 8 years back. 8 years got me rooted there, I got too comfortable with all the love and affection that I forgot how it was like to stay away from home. The first 3 days were the worst here. I was like a clingy, cry baby. I was intimidated by the vastness of this city, the lack of sunshine (in my room), lack of network adding to the misery. On top of all this, I work 6 days a week, making visits to Kochi rare and precious.

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    Kochi – This view from my bedroom window โ™ฅ
  3. I Miss Kochi – For me, Kochi is a feeling (The sentence is cliched, the feeling is genuine). I miss the balance between the city life and the nature. You get everything in Kochi and the moment you step out of the central area, you also get the peace, serenity, and the clean air. I miss my friends there. I miss the familiarity. If I begin to write about the things I miss in Kochi, I’d have too long a post. So I’ll save that for another time. I miss maneuvering through the narrow alleys, avoiding the traffic, exploring more tinier alleys, finding paths that I never knew existed. I miss the Malayalam, specially the Kochi accent (Never though I’d say this).

    The path towards the Boat Jetty area is lined with coconut trees which finally tapers into the water

  4. The Inability to Wrap My Head Around Bangalore – All of us have a Google Map in our head. The moment you think of a familiar place, the map pops open in your head showing all the locations, the time taken to each location, the specialties there, the traffic etc. Depending on the activity you want to do, your brain projects the list of places offering the activity with the distance, price range etc. I am too familiar with the Mental Map of Kochi and when I try the same with Bangalore, it is blank obviously. That is deeply unsettling. I need to work on building the map and soon. I hate that blank space. ๐Ÿ˜€
  5. I need to make a list of things I want to do outside my working hours. I need to find the time, the place and affordable options for the same.
  6. I am beginning to bring about changes in my lifestyle. The first step was going for morning walks. Today is the 4th day of morning walk and I must say, I am enjoying it. Also starting today, I installed a meditation app and meditated for about 10 minutes. It felt much better than the meditations I did alone. I hope to continue these two positive changes in the future.
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Dissing the city was not my intention through this post. Every city has its pros and cons. And most of the people initially feel their hometown is the best as a major portion of their lives was spent there. It is the same for me. This post was just to clear my head, clarify all the messed up knots there, list it down and work on them. In a month or so, my perspectives might have changed. And it will reflect here in my blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

Haveย  a nice day.

Love,
Ranjini