This was my speech for the Storytelling manual – Project 2 (Let’s get personal)
The roads were narrow, thick trees on the sides, faint sunlight that you could see between the trees, as we drove under the canopy of trees into dark turns, I sat holding the car seat tightly muttering prayers under my breath.
Good Morning Toastmaster of the Day, my fellow toastmasters and guests.
During the last rainy season my husband and I decided to go on a trip to Hebbe falls. I was super excited and made elaborate planning on what to wear, what food to take, which route to go, the places to visit.
I had many what if’s in my mind, what if we miss the way, what if there is a flat tyre, what if the car breaks down, what if we run out of cash, what if the ATM has no cash , what if we had to stay overnight
Saurabh wasn’t worried, this wasn’t his first trip after all.
We set off at 6 am to Chikmagalur. It was raining heavily, the road wasn’t visible clearly but we didn’t stop. After a quick breakfast at a tea stall we continued our journey. I followed every single turn in Google map lest we miss our way. Our first stop was the Mulyangiri peak. We took a left turn near Kaimara and reached the Mulyangiri peak. The rains had stopped and the sun was up and the place was too crowded as it was Sunday. But we enjoyed, the climb, the view on the top, and the Charmuri treats.
Our next stop was the hebbe falls. We followed the shortest route to Hebbe falls from Mulyangiri.
My dear friends, for those of you who do not use Google maps too frequently, BEWARE!; Google s shortest routes are quite dangerous. Of course, I was ignorant at the time. After we drove for about 30 minutes, the roads were narrower; the trees were taller and denser.
A bamboo gate forbade us from moving ahead. The road ahead was muddy; we could see some pot holes filled with water because of the rains. A young forest guard, not more than 25 years came over saying “ Illa Illa, Restricted area. The road ahead is forbidden”.
I had strong faith in Google, I immediately said, “No, this route leads to Hebbe falls. I have been here before”.
“Illa , Illa, jeepalli hogbodu. But not in alto car. You have to take a detour”, he replied.
The detour my friends would take another 70 kms to Kemmangundi, and again some distance to Hebbe falls , This route is just 13 Kms; it takes us directly to Hebbe falls and driving through mud road and pot holes didn’t seem a big deal for me. It is a common sight here in Mangaluru when it rains.
After some bickering and cajoling I managed to convince him. He said, “Don’t stop anywhere; you will take around 90 minutes.”
I looked at Saurabh, both of us were calculating the formula speed = distance traveled/time taken in our minds. Why would we travel at speed of 10km/hr?
In less than a minute we realized why it is a big deal.
Due to rains, the roads and potholes were all covered with water. We could hardly see beyond the next turn, with dense trees covering on both the sides the branches of some trees were low, just a couple of feet over the alto, the next turn was pitch dark, the streaks of sunlight coming through the thick canopy of trees was just enough to see the way, We had to pause near ever single puddle of water to figure out the safest way to cross on the left or right. Yes, it would take us 90 minutes to cross 13kms
Any other vehicle or even a bike coming from the opposite direction didn’t have place to stop and let us pass. Any other vehicle ???
At that time I remembered, huge hoardings at the bamboo barricade where I met the forest guard, huge boards with pictures of tiger that said “Forest Area, Core Tiger Area”. 20 minutes in this road and we didn’t come across any vehicle, there were no people, no vehicles no birds not even mosquitoes. Just the eerie atmosphere, pin drop silence, and at that point I started muttering prayers.
Weird things came to my mind, the what-if’s ,
I started imagining weird things, what if the tyre got stuck in the puddle, what if some animal came by,
What if the tiger was hungry….
Saurabh wanted to turn the music on , because the silence was boring him, I denied out rightly. I didn’t want to wake the tiger.
After what seemed like hours, I finally saw another barricade and a couple of forest guards. The gate was open and we drove past it to the familiar sight of people, vehicles, monkeys around, only to realize that I had missed he left turn to Hebbe falls. Google showed we had to go back for another 0.5 km in that dreaded path. Surprisingly, I wasn’t scared this time to go back in that route. Turns out, I became a little braver. It wasn’t possible to test my bravery because this time the forest guards didn’t let us enter , and he didn’t believe me when I said we came through that route.
We skipped the Hebbe falls and went to the next destination – Kemmangundi (there’s always another time)
This trip has etched into my memory like it happened just a few minutes ago. It reminds of the importance of doing something that scares you.
If it scares you, it may be a good thing to try. Who knows, you may come out effulgent.