Mathew had suggested a 4 am getaway but the resolution the night before and fatigue finally catching up made me sleep without a care in the world. I got up late, by normal standards and was ready to leave for Cochin, after a cup of coffee, at 7 am. Mathew, yet again, had made a remarkable recovery.
Hosur zipped by and we were in Krishnagiri for breakfast at A2B (Adyar Ananda Bhavan). I ordered sweets to be packed for friends in Cochin. Breakfast was huge and, once again, Mathew wondered how all this would fold into my stomach. The road between Avinashi and Coimbatore has improved and hence was able to get through to Coimbatore by 12.30 pm, where Mathew got off to go to his work place in Sulur. The view of the Western Ghats was the sure sign that Kerala border is a short distance away. I stopped at the welcome gate near Walayar and clicked away. The entry into Kerala was emotional; home, sweet home not too far.
I had arranged with Sreekumar, the photo journalist of Malayala Manorama, to meet up at Palarivattom junction. We send some time clicking a few pictures for a story on the expeditions in the newspaper. When I reached the Alfa Serene Apartment complex, my wife, daughter and a few friends had gathered to receive me. Sweets, bouquet and photos later it was unloading the luggage and relaxing at home.
It is Thomas Jefferson who said, “One travels more usefully when alone, because he reflects more". Later in the night, while emptying the left over Bacardi breezers, I closed my eyes for a silent Thanksgiving. To Him and His Guardian Angels went out the first. I ‘saw’ them and their ‘interventions’ during the journey. My health and spirits were maintained in top condition all through the 29 days that I was away. This was due to the prayers and good wishes of friends and relations. A host of railway colleagues, friends in Service, erstwhile colleagues, friends and relations who helped me with logistics and support and those who readily agreed to attest the log sheets along the way contributed immensely to the success of the expeditions. In fact, without them the expeditions would have remained incomplete. In all the travels, it is not the success of them, but the meeting up with friends, forging new relationships and learning from them that I have found rewarding.
Thus, Manoj Sasidharan, Seju Kuruvila, Meghna, Deepan, Rajesh, Mrs and Mr Goswami, SC Jethi, RK Tandon, George, Amit Sanyal, BP Tayal, CP Sharma, Deepak Chhabra, Gopal Mohanty, GD Brahma, Thulasiram Nair, Avirappi, Mathew Philip, Tamilvannan, Fr Benny, Fr Jacob, the Sisters at Mahua, Cherian Abraham, Jibu Itty, Chakochan, Anupa and Swarupa (not to miss out, the young Michel), Mrs and Mr Binson Mathew, Mrs and Mr. Jose Tharakan, Jose Mathew, Diwia Thomas, Mary George, Sumodh, Sugesh, Satheesh, Anita and Joe, and many, many others were responsible for the twin successes. I thank them all (more so, the many I have inadvertently left out).
Hail Suresh! The Swift seacoast farer,
While we sat on the bench, you set the bench marks,
While we left imprints on the bench (our bench marks),
You made yours in the sands of time.
(RK Tandon, Chief Operations Manager, Western Railway on 13 Feb 2013)
"We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls". Anais Nin