Day 80: Tiruchirapalli To Dhanuskodi To Mandapam

Wise men said – Its darkest before the dawn. And we have understood the meaning of those lines whenever the dawn had come upon us. But now when it is dark.

The last few days have been extremely boring and taxing on me. Language has all of a sudden become an issue since there is no way in the world that I can understand a word of either Telugu or Tamil. The journeys have been long and without any real thought. It had all of a sudden become a quest for getting from point A to point B. From Jabalpur to Nagpur to Hyderabad to Chennai, it was pointless. I don’t know what I was doing. And then, the sun rose today.

As I went down to load up the stuff on the bike, I noticed water on the ground. It was drizzling. The weather was lovely. It was like the onset of monsoon in Maharashtra. It brought a smile on my face. It was a good omen.

As I travelled towards Pudukkotai and then towards Ramanathpuram, the rain continued. Not very heavy, just drizzling. Not strong enough to make me stop but strong enough to not let me take out the camera. Just a couple of pics.

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By around noon, I was crossing over from the mainland to the island of Rameshwaram. I didn’t know what to expect. The first thing hits you from the bridge itself. Pamban town (where the bridge is located) is a picture postcard town. As the wind blew strong and hard over the mega bridge over the Gulf of Mannar, the lighthouse, the boats, the sea and the sun played myriad games with the eyes.

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Rameshwaram was about to come when I came across a board from one of the most honest government departments in the world. They call themselves “Third Grade Municipality” and their third grade work is all over the place for everyone to see. In any case, nothing in the place interested me. So I headed on to the end of land – Dhanuskodi.

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This was the road to Dhanuskodi.

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At first everything seemed okay and it looked like any other road anywhere else. Then I looked carefully and realized this road is all that there is around here. There is less than 10 inches of land on either side of the road. The shrubs are hiding the sea making for a misleading venture into the sea.

About 15 kilometers later, the road ended. Again just like that. There were a few people there who told me that all tourist vehicles come till here and the people are carried ahead in special trucks suited for the terrain. This is an early glimpse of the terrain. Not very difficult.

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Offering some great views and photo ops.

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Then it got worse. Extremely bad.

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But I pressed on never once getting stalled. It was a lot of effort. But each minute there was like in a different world. More than compensated for the pain.

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Finally I reached where all the trucks were parked. Now there were tracks leading out of here too but they disappear about 50 feet ahead. Then its just loose sand. No way of riding the bike there.

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The ruins at the last point

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The trucks left. I was tired and not in any real hurry. It was still only 4 pm and I was only 25 kilometers from Rameshwaram. There was plenty to daylight to get me across. I left when there was no one around. The first 8 kilometers across the marsh and the mud and the sea was the only worrying part but I was confident having done it less than an hour back. But then life has its own ways of asking you funny questions. Like this.

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The bike got stuck in a more than expected high mud bank. The footrests on both sides, the exhaust pipe, the rear leg guards and lower half of the tyres were all inside the mud. The bike wouldn’t budge.
I pushed and pulled and cursed and prayed and begged for about 15 minutes with no results. Zero displacement. Then I gathered my thoughts and took off all the luggage.

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Then I tried to push down the bike on its left side where the mud bank was lower than on the right. The entire bike was pushed to rest on the left footrest and the leg guards.

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Its was only now – 35 minutes after it got stuck that it would allow someone to push it. I somehow got it on its wheels and took it to more solid ground and was off. A view of what I was up against.

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It had been my most trying moment in the last three months. And in more ways than one, in life. Absolutely no one for help. All standard thoughts are useless. And it weighs more than what I can lift. But I did it.

One would think such a moment would dampen the spirit a little but the sunset at beach made it completely worthwhile.

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