Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Googling on Manjeswar

I tried google maps on Manjeswar last night, and boy, was I amazed!

There is this small trail that I had seen branching off from the main-road, not far from my quarters. So unbecoming to the adventurer in me, I had not ventured down that path even once in my one month here so far. I had tried to do some exploring during the first week, but after having driven off a cliff, the road suddenly having ended into an open gorge while I was still cruising at 60, had more or less decided not to go on any more wild goose chases.

That might have been a mistake.

There is a river running through the village (brother who came down from Delhi last week helped me with that: the old part of town is more appropriately called a village, I have since decided), a shallow stretch of water meandering in between wide sand-banks, typical of a river in its final stages before joining the sea. In retrospect, I wonder how it could never have occurred to me that I should have a look down the road that led in the direction where the river might join the sea.

In Google maps' satellite imagery I saw that the narrow river that I had known was actually only one of three or four, that formed a common delta before leading onto the Arabian sea. Due to the peculiar course of the rivers joining with each other and the sea, the land was carved into a broken chain of islands arranged in a gigantic C shape, the open ends barely 50 feet from one another across the water, but separated by at least 15km if one was traveling by land.

I had to force myself not to get on the motorcycle and go over to the edge of the water then and there. I remember how a friend and I had once been sitting idly watching it rain outside our balcony at the medical college hostel one midnight, when just like that we felt like going to a water theme park near Kochi, that was supposedly the largest in Asia. I don't remember who originated the idea but we dug up some moth-eaten rain clothes (that did a very fine job of keeping us wet even after the rain had stopped many hours later) and started off in our two motorcycles to reach Kochi at around 6.30 in the morning, checked in to the cheapest hotel we could find, caught 2 hrs of sleep before going to the park. It is another story that we were both of us so NOT amused at being asked to step into a shallow pool of water smelling of urine, vomit and alcohol, with a bunch of school kids, and asked to imagine that we were having fun, all for Rs 350. Its just that when you have rode all night braving a thunderstorm and made it across 250km, your benchmark for what counts as adventure is slightly higher. I think theme parks are considered funny because, having paid for the entry ticket, people would better start imagining that they are having a good time!

The night passes, and early today morning I got on Old trusty and went down the narrow lane. It took me past the sand-mining banks and the fishing harbour, to end against a lane of boulders cutting across the road and continuing into the sea. Leaving the bike there and having climbed over the obstacles I found myself in a stretch of sand-bank, the edge of the 'C' that I had seen yesterday, the Arabian sea to my right, the combined pool of the four rivers on my left.

An infinite stretch of water: the rivers tranquil; the ocean, turbulent.

A little out into the sea, isolated boulders could be seen propping out of the surface, part of the chain of rocks. At one or two of the highest points, someone had put up a couple of green flags, signaling that, like me, the local Muslim fishermen also thought this place had the hand of God upon it.

The other shore appeared even more thinly inhabited, with no signs of commercial activity. It would be wonderful to swim across the channel to the other side, and may be set up a fire and spend the night there.

I just couldn't help wishing I had chanced upon this place while going down an unknown road, rather than having a satellite tell me what was practically on my own backyard!

Folks, try google maps around where you live. Who knows what we might find!


  1. this feels like going up to the attic and finding a floor board that can be moved to open up a secret chamber, but after the detailed directions given by your grandmom!! I wish you had taken the path on your own. Hope you do swim across the water and spend a night on the other bank someday!

  2. Lol..but seriously , i cant live without google baba.

    I use google maps to get bus routes , locate friend's houses , figure out construction sites..everything!

    I even google symptoms and get my own diagnosis out of one point , i was convinced i had brain tumour , another time cancer , and one even depression !!


  3. @Sujatha: That's an almost perfect comparison, only its not grandma but big brother Uncle Sam. Yup, should make it across the channel one of these days, though it is as deep as it is violent sea, being as it is the bottleneck to the fishing harbour. But I also think I was able to appreciate it more completely because I had seen the map.
    There is no other way to know that the two shores were so far away by land and all.

    @Gymnast: Every medical student, when they start learning about diseases per se after the first year or so, goes through a similar stage. It has even got a name - 'Third year syndrome', they call it. I was largely spared the disease probably because I never was much of a reader, not textbooks at any rate, and on the night before the exams you are anyway convinced you have depression and brain tumour together. :-)

  4. I know all about googling symptoms, I became an expert at it. Once I decided it was enough and just stopped.
    But yes I know what you mean by not discovering your own backyard. There is a very famous poem by Tagore where he says that he has seen the whole world but has not seen the beauty of a dew drop on the blade of a grass in his own garden.

  5. I am tempted to google my surroundings now. Who knows I might stumble upon something really interesting! But just as I type this my friend gives me a threatening look. She has found me googling for birthday gift ideas, illness symptoms, the dreams i had,...the list is long. :D

  6. @Aparna: Yeah I have heard that one by Tagore.

    @Destiny: I remember having read about this somewhere in your blog


Thanks for giving me this moment of your life.