A date with Destiny

It was all destiny in hindsight. After the Thadiyandamol camping, the 'Four Pork-eaters' got together once again for another memorable trip. This time the destination was a farm called 'Destiny', about 25 kilometers off Ootty. We all had heard much about the beauty of this place and Jaideep had done all the reservations in advance to avoid any last minute surprises. So it was just a matter of dragging our ass out there.

We -Jai, Chevy, Rob & myself- started early morning that Saturday in Jai's Red Dragon. The trip was uneventful till we reached the forest check-post at Tamilnadu border. Seeing four innocent young chaps inside the car, the guard politely asked to open up the bags for checking. As if to validate Murphy's Law, he pointed exactly at Jai's bag and gleefully pulled out a bottle of Talisker from it! He said we cannot carry alcohol across states without a permit and all the usual stories. Jai tried his best to explain that this is not just 'alcohol' but imported scotch, the only single malt from the Island of Skye, which already survived the customs check at the Frankfurt & Bangalore airports. The grin on the guard's face turned into a full smile at the lucky find. But probably because the bottle was already open and we were not drunk and he was a teetotaler and all of us were members of 'Rakhi Sawant Fan Club' on Facebook, he let us go without much trouble.

But trouble was waiting in another form just around the corner.. this time it wasn't Talisker, but tuskers. Seeing the elephants we all got down and started taking pictures. We kept our distance and they too didn't mind being photographed, till a moron in another car and started honking continuously. Irritated by the noise, one of elephants charged at us and in a matter of seconds all four of us were inside the car. Without any further incidents we reached Ootty and reported at King's Cliff by lunch time for our pickup. King's Cliff is an old colonial bungalow converted to a beautiful hotel. After a good lunch and apple pies we decided to drive down to the farm instead of taking the transportation arranged by the hotel. Destiny farm's parking lot is exactly 22.6 kilometers from Ootty bus station towards Avalanchi & Emerald dams. It was drizzling and the drive is through awesome locales. We stopped near Emerald dam for another photo-shoot and finally reached the parking lot by early evening.

The farm is about 3 kilometers from the parking space and the road goes through some real tough terrain. You cannot drive all the way to the farm, but will be picked up in an old Shaktiman truck or jeep from the parking lot. Comprising of a valley, hills, a beautiful lake, a stable full of Horses, a dairy full of Cows, a hutch with Rabbits and guinea pigs, Geese & Sheep, Destiny is a self sufficient farm on the edge of wilderness in the Niligiri Biosphere. The rooms named after great explorers and scientists, and furnished with warm wooden flooring, country furniture and fireplaces, open up towards the hills, the farm and the lake below. If you've ever wanted to get the feel of a country house in the wild west, this IS the place! After roaming around for a while we soon settled into our room named after 'Carl Linnaeus'. The fire was lit, food was served and in no time we crawled under the blankets for a wonderful night of sleep.

Next day morning the view was spectacular with a full rainbow stretching across the valley. I always wanted to catch the rainbow and soon rushed out to the nearby hill, hoping to touch base with the beauty. But like many beautiful things in life it kept on shifting places, always at arms' reach but still too far to grasp. There was a football field atop the hill next to the stables. So after a quick breakfast, we came back to the field for a game of football. The field was muddy and it was real fun to play football in the rain. Another group from Chennai also joined us soon and someone or other kept falling down every other minute. After an hour long match we visited the stables while Rob went for a horse ride to the nearby hillocks. We had a great time walking around the lake and the farm, clicking pictures of the geese and the sheep.

Post lunch we started back to Bangalore and after another brush with a bunch of elephants on the way, reached the city late in the evening. The folks at the farm have a saying "When you come to Destiny, that's really what it is." We couldn't agree more!

More pictures here!

Pre Marriage Flux

My mom's been cross with me for quite some time for not agreeing to get married. According to her I have already past prime, and as my grandmother says 'at your age, your grand father and me had 3 kids!'. Somehow I had managed to stay away from this debate till now, saying I don't want to get married just because I am getting old. I should have a better reason for doing so than gray hairs, receding headline, number of birthdays and peer pressure. But all hell broke loose after mom learned that her brother has finalized the marriage of my cousin sister; who is six years younger to me! She had enough. She formally conveyed to me that now it is a matter of family pride for her to get at least one of her own, walk the aisle. My argument that marriage is not a competition item was vehemently opposed by tooth and nail and even tears.

Her requirements were also very stringent this time. Just a green flag to the bride search over phone was totally unacceptable. She wanted me to drag my ass home and visit a few prospects she fish out of all the matrimonial websites. In a momentary lapse of consciousness brought about by emotions, I dropped my guard and agreed to visit home over the weekend. This was one moment I underestimated my mom, or more accurately the power of wounded pride. In two days' time she called me back with details on a bunch of prospective brides. I was aghast, to say the least, at the pace at which things were moving, but the best was yet to come. She went ahead and arranged meetings with one of them over the weekend! I had to put on a really elaborate 'sick-and-down' act to prevent this mishap from happening.

I am generally not very comfortable with formal interview sessions. Give me an open field with no restrictions on the topics to brag about, I will look like an evangelist pastor on steroids. But if you make me sit across the table from a few serious looking people, with whom I am supposed to converse in civilized tongue, I act more like a lazy sloth. Most of my job interviews fortunately start with some comment on my name, 'Were your Dad drunk when he named you Disney', or something of that taste. That gives me the necessary upper hand, as I use a set of pre-prepared and well rehearsed dialogues to tell them how I resembled Mickey mouse when the nurse brought me out of the labor room, and so on. But presenting your case of husband-ship, for the kind consideration of a girl is a totally different ballgame. I had hugely underestimated the 'herculianness' of this task. Its no 'Venio Video Vinco' !

I shivered at the thought of such 'Meet the Parents' sessions, based on the experiences of friends and relatives. I even started getting weird dreams for the next few days, all of them featuring me in a courtroom, interrogated by people!

Scene 1: The Bride's Father
'So where do you work?", asked the prospective father-in-law.
'I work for a small company of 12 people', I replied, beaming with pride and expecting some appreciation on my risk taking abilities.
'Only twelve?', he asked in disbelief and I moved forward, stretching my hands to catch his eyeballs as they jump out of the socket.
"So you did not get into Infosys or Wipro", asked the girl's father who was eager to dismiss the case at the earliest.

In God's own country, working for one of the Big Three is an essential requirement to get a girl from a decent family. Infosys, Wipro & TCS are the most frequently used three words in Kerala, after Jesus Christ, fresh fish, Gulf, Bandh and Beverages-Corporation. Any one who doesn't work for these three companies are considered worthless, irrespective of whether they did their education in Law, Geography or Parapsychology.

I tried to explain more about the job and the passion involved, but it all ended up like a soliloquy as he invited me for a cup of coffee. He switched gears swiftly and started talking about the monsoon, and I got the idea!

Scene 2: Miss Congeniality
"So you go to St.Thomas or St.Antony's on Sundays", she asks as if she already knew my Achiles Heel.

I took a minute or two to decide whether to tell her how I wandered around the city to locate the church a week before - to meet a friend after the Sunday's service. Religion and Theology are anyway not my forte, unless the point is to argue against it.

So in a miserable attempt to diffuse the tension and put a humorous twist to the occasion, I told her 'HE might get down from the cross and run out of the church -even forgetting that he is improperly clothed to suit the situation- if I walk into the church'

Her mouth opened wide like the bonnet of a car, perhaps annoyed at my casual way of taking the lord's name! Even though I tried telling her that I prefer St. Patrick's because of the good choir, I could see the disinterest in her smile.

She asked me only one thing after this 'What is the capital of Uzbekistan', for which I did not have an answer.
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