Manickam worked his magic. There is nothing better than his coffee to start the day. A couple of cups of them and you can set out to dare the world. I took the NH47 for the last leg of my journey that has given me so many experiences and so many good friends. While I was happy to be getting back home I was also wistful about the journey of the past 18 weeks and a bit sad that it was coming to an end. But, as Lin Yu-Tang said, “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”
I had targeted to reach Cochin by 5 pm. Accordingly I lined up a short diversion to the office of RLM, the manufactures of premier spinning machines, and lunch with Abraham (Abe), my cousin, and his family in Coimbatore. I had informed Abe that I would have to leave by 12.30 after lunch. The slight delay in locating the RLM office meant a further reduction in the lunch hour. However, Abe and Tresa ensured that I had enough on my plate to concentrate on than worry about the hours that sped by. The glorious soup started it all. Though I was tempted to accept a second helping the rest of the spread on the table and the alarming protuberance of my belly settled the pang. Sausages and a salad in mayonnaise sauce chased the soup down the same path. At this stage I could not resist a second helping of the calorie filled salad and sausages. Rice, noodles, cabbage, chicken curry, etc disappeared from my plate in double quick time. Then came the juicy, sweet watermelon, yummy brownie (which did not appeal much to the baker of the said item) with ice cream and delicious black halwa. Tresa insisted on packing the rest of the halwa for the journey and that is when I decided to go down to the car as fast as the lift would bear me to the basement. There is no way in which I would have made it by the stairs. Ajay is privy to this fact.
I realized that it was quarter to two when I left Coimbatore. I almost panicked for I had to be in Cochin by 5 pm. A combination of improved roads beween Trichur and Angamaly and luck with the city traffic lights, despite a huge hold up at Vytilla, ensured my entry into the Riviera Retreat compound a little after 5 pm. Satheesh, Anju, Neeba, Paulu, Mathew and Bibu made up the welcome committee. A garland and a grand bouquet of flowers preceded the traditional welcome with a sweet burfi. In occasions such as this it is a skill to keep all present engaged with a narration of your experiences as well as a clarification of doubts. I do not possess such a skill and hence the party broke up pretty soon. Thereafter I had a couple of sessions with reporters from The Indian Express and Malayala Manorama. The journey well and truly ended with a ‘spirited’ debriefing session with Satheesh and Mathew.