We reached Palakkad Junction before 5 am and it was still dark outside. The auto rikshaws in the town are large and roomy which was a good thing as Tarun was already waiting for us. The 3 of us with all our luggage, squeezed into one. We were off for the municipal bus stand to catch the first bus to Kollengode which left at 6.am, and it hadn't arrived yet when we got there. Ever so gradually the sky filled with light. I managed to dash off this sketch as the bus pulled in. I'm sure the place would have been far more bustling and crowded in another hour but by 6.15 we were off.
Palakkad to Kollengode is only 30 km, but it took an hour. Mainly because the bus stops for every man, woman, child, goat and chicken standing on the side of the road. At Kollengode we bundled ourselves back into an auto and set off towards the Chuliyar dam armed with a long and complicated set of sms directions. Our destination was Suman's farm.
The road to Suman's farm was deserted at 7.30 in the morning. Already it was getting hot and in peak dry season the landscape was golden brown. On the left was the farm - our base for the week and on the right some dense undergrowth full of peacocks that were heard a LOT but rarely seen, and beyond that, a stone quarry. If you continued further down this road you eventually leave the hamlet of Mechira behind and reach the hills. We hoped to camp there but permissions needed to be sorted out and eventually we sadly resigned to staying on the farm instead of camping in the wilderness.
The farm was quite a wilderness too. In our enthusiasm to do everything camping style we prepared our lunch outdoors. Parvez built a nifty little brick stove and everyone set about pealing and chopping vegetables.
There were now nine of us and in the mid-day heat preparing a meal for nine out in the open is a very hot and sweaty affair.
The others who had come by car had carted many large vessels and buckets along. They had bought vegetables and provisions already. In the blazing heat we ate instant maggi noodles with veggies thrown in. Back in Madras I never buy maggi. I scoff at it . It's for people who don't know how to cook. I cook real food... etc. But after the long journey, hungry and tired, sitting out there with friends on a shared adventure, and thanks to a generous daub of lime pickle it was a delicious meal.