Travel...One of my passion, only next to ice-creams and chocolates:P I had traveled over 1500 kms by road last month alone, thanks to a wedding at home and my bizarre interest on doing everything the purrrfect way! Thanks to the austerity measures, we have a brand new sparkling highway connecting the North most capital city to the South most tip where Angels..ahem...are born! So, how is it to do 120kmph without much ado, munching away murukkus and laddus watching villages whizzing by? Sheer fun, until your stomach rings the first bell. Fuel for the cars and burning stomachs on highway is a quagmire- the right petrol station that doesn't cheat on you, the right food that doesn't act as a HUGE laxative!
The drive from Chennai down South on early evenings is fine, so long as the weather is cool. Cyclone Thane raced alongside us from Chennai to Trichy which was our stop over. Chappatis and hot idlis in the night in Hotel Ponnusamy, Villupuram helped us move on. Why not Ponnusamy get royalty for their ayira meen kulambu and nethili fry??? L always prefers early morning travel from Trichy to Tirunelveli, we start by 6 and pull over for breakfast at 8 near Othakkadai, Madurai's Temple City restaurant. Situated along side HP station, the breakfast of puris and idlis is just right for the wallet and the stomachs! And idlis in Madurai...oh my! Just the right softness, the texture, the mildly tangy flour and the five colored chutneys that accompany it...just gorgeous! I am madly in love with the Temple city's idlis and gundu mallis...
|madurai malli, pic courtesy- google image search|
And the next stop over is at Cafe Coffee Day near Kovilpatti. Relaxing and stretching with a cuppa cappuccino and a small chat can work wonders for your wary body...Drive beyond Tirunelveli to the mountains is just a dream drive, as the road winds along a green carpet of paddy fields and coconut groves. Every time we smile when we cross our 'favorite' accident spots- one where my sleepy brother parked our car underneath a parked truck and another where my little sibling hit a cyclewallah! Travel these days is more comfort and fun, which reminds me of my school days where buses took 18 hours to reach Chennai from my home town. I remember the place in Thuvarankurichi where i was offloaded from a bus that met with an accident at two in the midnight...I still get goosebumps remembering the long walk in moonlight with strangers for two kilometres that night to the nearest bus station.
Oh, should i forget the broom stick swept dosa tavas where profusely sweating men cooked in wayside motels? My aversion to motel food started the day i saw one such 'cook'! Fearing the restrooms in wayside motels, my food for the entire journey of 14 hours was a pack of good day biscuits and a tiny maaza! The wayside guavas, cucumbers, groundnut bars and my very special "inji morappa"...That girl is probably from a distant past, long forgotten...
All these years, one thing that has never changed are our rural friends who always line up the highway on early mornings for the Guard Of Honour;) Women who use highway barriers as washing stones, headlight flashing 'intellectuals' who rush on the wrong side of the highway, cattle who graze lovingly on the manicured grass on barriers, women who pluck 'arali' flowers from plants dotting the highway for daily pujas, busy bees who cross the highway holding atop their TVS Excel bikes...drunkards who roll on zebra crossings and old women who always jump the road barricade straight in front of your vehicle! NH7 and NH45 are still the same, they hold special memories...they have seen me drooling on the window panes of state buses as a little school girl and now a doting mother, mixing a glass of boost for the kids armed with a flask near a parked car. Men may come and men may go...but roads go on for ever!