Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The End

Friends,

“Walk.
You were born for the road.
Walk on.
You have someone to meet.
You do not know as yet.
Perhaps it is your own self.

Walk on,
Your footsteps will be your words.
The path ahead will be your song.
Your exhaustion will be your prayer
And the silence at last will speak to you.

Walk on,
Alone or in group,
But go out from your house.
The others you thought of as rivals will be your companions.
The ones you saw as enemies will be your brothers and sisters.

Walk on
Although you do not know
Where your feet are taking your heart.

Walk on.
You were born for the road,
The pilgrim road.
Someone else is walking towards you,
Someone who is looking for you
So that you can find Him,
In the sanctuary at the end of the road,
In the shrine of your heart.

He is your Peace.
He is your Joy.
Go.
Already God walks with you.”

The above is from the Prayer Room in Zurich Airport. I had Him for company throughout the journey and He guided me every moment during it as He has in my life. It is His intervention that took me closer to those who I knew previously and brought me close to the new friends I made during the past 124 days. He gave me good health and adequate wealth to complete the journey. I thank Him for the wonderful experience.

Before I began it I had dedicated the journey to my parents. All along the way I experienced their warm presence and blessings. My brother and his family are very dear to me. Their constant care and concern lifted my spirits and kept me in touch with ‘home’. A host of relatives provided the comfort of prayers and encouragement. 

During the journey I never felt alone, even for a moment. This was only due to the rich interface with friends, old and new. A special thanks to my railway brethren and Service colleagues, who went extra miles to ensure that I felt at home in new environments. Some of those who helped me are still only voices I recognize. Whenever I asked for assistance it was forthcoming and never once was it refused. I salute every one of them. Those who followed my blog posts were the real cheerleaders.

A Dream has been realized and I am sad, in a way, that the journey has ended. But, life’s journey goes on. And there are other dreams to travel for and more to dream. I end with another gem from Lin Yu-Tang, “A good traveler is one who does not know where he is going to, and a perfect traveler does not know where he came from.”

DAY 124 – Salem to Cochin

Friends,
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.