An exotic flower that bloomed every 12 years didn't surprise me... Read the full story
I cannot ask you to experience the journey to the Kurinji the same way I did. The following are tidbits from a journey that made me realize that there are forces that can still break through these walls of assumptions that cloud our judgment at every single turn.
As a child, you’re asked to follow the path laid out by others. You blink, nod your head, hold onto your guardian’s little finger, and let their steps take you places. Time, however, forces you to walk unaided, with infinite streams opening up in all directions. You encounter love, ambition, regret and fear, all held together by people and places that come and go as they selfishly, please. By the time we understand the fact that the choice has always been our own, the butlers of the Universe appear before us, imploring us to act swiftly. The planet awaits us, the citizens watch; the beasts seem to groan in anticipation as we make those deceptively innocuous choices that decide our path. The steps that lead to either the welfare or the destruction of those around us. What indeed is life…
But one must move and look, because eventually, something ought to make sense, right?
Like all journeys, this massively unhelpful existential crisis seems to be infesting my brain. I stand on the shores of the beautiful Alappuzha beach, where families and children of all sizes, tourists and vendors of all nationalities, and writers and poets of all varieties, mingle and jingle away to glory. My guide, the ever-patient M, is informing my wife and myself of the traders, Venice replicas, reputations, and tourist hotbeds in the area. He knows us personally, so he’s going to take us to the spots almost no other tourist get to see, even though my heart tells me I’m not the first to hear that. We’re surrounded by nature’s endless bounty on all sides, a breeze that ushers in wave upon wave of water onto shores that provide the perfect refuge for sand castles and other uninhibited designs. The ambiance of the place is what holds my attention, the way people seem to have stumbled upon this gem, in a district renowned for its legendary houseboats. The beach is merely supposed to be a pit stop, but from the first moment your eyes encounter the ancient pier that juts straight into the ocean defiantly, you’re forced to stare. Simply stare. This place has seen civilization birth, grow and evolve in its steadfast way, absorbing all it could, but clings onto its untamed charm despite everything. It fought fiercely to remain this way, with the ravaged pier being the greatest exponent of the same.
We take a breather at the coconut water stands outside, where different versions of the drink are now easily available. I eavesdrop on an elderly man imparting gems on its natural benefits to a mildly interested group of children, whose attention seemed to be drawn towards the pinwheel seller situated a few feet away. M gently informs us that our route is different from other tourists. We’re going to the hills after all. The Queen of the Hills. Munnar beckons, and so does its Kurinji flowers.
My initial research tells me that our final destination is Eravikulam National Park, which is said to have the best vantage spots from which to watch the plants bloom. M promises me that the Neelakurinji is a sacred sight, beloved to the tribals, pride of the entire State, a gift from the heavens, and many other wonderful phrases. I try reasoning with him but fail. I don’t need to be told, I need to see it myself. I want to be as blown away as you seem to be. He thinks hard, then looks away for a while and comes back with:
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