As the bags were already in the car, I had very little to do before the journey actually started. It is only appropriate that we seek the blessings of the Almighty before we start anything important or challenging. Hence, I visited the St. Joseph’s Church in Thevara prior to the “flag off”. Satheesh, my brother, his wife Niba, my friends Ummachan and Mathew joined me for a black coffee in the flat. A few photographs and jokes later it was time to leave. The moment had arrived and I left at 0725 from Riviera Retreat.
The journey to Trivandrum was by and large uneventful. I visited the newly inaugurated “Parnasala” of the Shantigiri Ashram. Walking around bare feet was a challenge. The structure is magnificent. After a hearty meal at “Three Wishes” I headed for the Railway Divisional Office. The Divisional Operations Manager provided me with the first ‘Testimony of Visit’. I will be collecting such testimonies from all the places where I halt to authenticate my journey. Thereafter, I went to the Vettukad Church, which is a must visit whenever I touch base in Trivandrum.
The last visit on the agenda was Kovalam. This place holds a special place in my heart. Many Sundays were spent at the unspolit Kovalam beach in the 60’s; my parents used to take us there on outings with another family – the Narayanaswamy’s. The idlis and pooris that Aunty made and the swimming skills of Achachan are still vivid in recollection. Once we grew up and migrated to various parts of the country for education and work, Kovalam remained just memories of a bygone day. Therefore, in late 2005, after I had taken up the assignment with DP World, I took Achachan to Kovalam one evening. The beach was overrun by tourists and Achachan had led a sedentary life for too long to exhibit his swimming skills. We sat at the Leela Hotel terrace overlooking the places we used to frequent in the past. It was a magical evening when we had a few drinks and short eats, but spoke little. This was the only way in which I could let him know how much we enjoyed what Achachan and Ammachi did for us. Both of them have passed on and left memories aplenty in their wake. To relive a few of them I went to the Leela Hotel terrace this evening and passed a few minutes quietly as a tribute to a wonderful pair.