" A DATE WITH CLEOPATRA"


"A DATE WITH CLEOPATRA"

Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, Ferrari ……. they are lined up waiting for me to choose them. I can see them winking at me with their glistening shine, I can hear them plead with their roaring engines.  All that power, all that muscle is just waiting there to hit the tracks.

I choose that red Porsche GT3 and all other cars looked upon in jealously.
 And ya then, ‘She hoped in her shorter shots and perfect tee.’
That morning sun and snapping wind that blew her silky hair sang some vivid rhythms.

“Hey baby “, “Are you ready? “

Wait …..what’s that voice? That's not her voice!!
slap…………………… slap …………….slap…slap…………… wake up mannnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

“It is time to ride.”
It’s no babe here !  “ It is my ‘native Indian’, ‘Englishman’; born and brought up in ‘Neyveli’.
And there is no skinny, tanned, long legged, short skirted girl that hopped in. …… it is this skinny, tanned, jockey worn !!!....well my dear friend, who hopped in.
It’ ‘SIR SUBRAMANIYAN’ alias subbu.

Reality broke up before my eyes……………..there is no Porsche, no MERC………it is????

“ Man does this car even have a name?”
Dude!!! …. “ This is Cleopatra dude.”
“CLEOPATRA!!!! “ “God”, “Subbu,  this won’t even fit for Cleopatra’s servant’s servant.”

Well when you ride; when you ride with your friends …………….Does the ride or even destiny matters?
It’s a care free ride…..the plan is ……oh by the way what’s our plan?

It’s our break ……. The long willing, awaited one. It is our first of a ride after nearly two years. It is a break for me from those X-rays, patients, CTs and MRI. It is a break for him from the hectic night shifts, Ventilators and emergencies. We are out on a date here with Cleopatra ….its me, subbu and her. The date will end when the date gets bored of us.

Well there are some freebies to add on the way……………….well my friends to pick on my way.

Cleopatra lets roar………….errrrrr……….errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…………reeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrooooooooo

“Wait I will find some one to push start it !!!!!”

It s mid-day now  4hours since we started our journey. Started from Trichy we are about to reach Chidambaram. Cleopatra has done 150kms and is doing good.

“ Dude we will stop in puthur  for food dude.”
   “ Machi, naveen da ( what about naveen)?”    
 “ We will get parcel dude”

   We did stop there to relish those hot fried fishes and roasted prawns. Ha those hard and jelly sponge curd ….hm who will miss that?

Lunch done and bellied……..now it’s time to go.
Naveen was as usual busy running up the department. But he was already waiting for us.

HERE WE COME TO PONDY..

Welcome to Pondy  …………….” The Romantic French Colony” ………Lets just get to party…………………………..hmmmmmm

Pondicherry Pondy, will welcome you with those cheap liquors store and local arrack shops. Liquor will let you know are in Pondy. But Pondy is not about liquor. Pondy is about serenity. It is about breaking the cultural barriers. It’s a colonial mix. It has history, it has versatility and it has beauty. Just take a walk in those French colonized streets, explore the French architect, roam mindlessly in the Nehru street, bargain with the street shops, get into the French collection and give yourself a new look. Walk in through some coffee shop or dine it at some boutique hotels  down the street. Pondy has so much to say. Have a day at auroville, take a evening at auro  beach. And don’t ever miss the morning sun, the morning walk and your coffee at le café. Don’t ever miss the mid-night beach the lonely moon and your ice cream at Ajantha. 

Taking some rum and vodka from the duty free shop we went to Giselle’s. Giselle has Germanic origin but originally a French, interesting right? Her family has settled in Pondy long time ago. She is a fashion designer and runs her a little boutique. 

We are to stay tonight at Giselle’s.

Right when we parked Giselle jumped right front of Cleopatra shouting 

  Ne vous arrêtez pas Continuez à déplacer” ….Guys keep moving……..
“Where are we going Giselle?”
“Are we not going in?”
“Going in!! ………..’papa’ will kill me. He is already furious about me”
“Furious, why??”
“I just sold his 1969 volk’s bug…actually auctioned it off….”

Auctioned and gave the money to those kids education right?”
“They are my kids, guys…..”

Giselle is unique ……..she is like a care free rebel blessed with that kindest heart.
“But Giselle we have here a car……….well …………..something that can be auctioned ….do you think it is useful?”
 “Dai nav..naveen shut up man.”
“But subbu where is the ride you promised us?”

“Giselle you too”………”Guys this is Cleopatra guys …..CLEOPATRA.”

And Cleopatra stopped for second time…………… we fueled ourselves well but we forget to fuel the big girl here. After a little fight, a little search and a little push we were back on track.

Naveen and subbu went on to deep sleep. I dozed off too. And Giselle was taking us now to Chennai.
Half past midnight we are in Chennai.

With the breeze hitting hard I woke up from a little nap.
“Mr, do you have a smoke?”
“Smoking is bad”
“Then why you do it?”
“Giselle, See I smoke only when I travel”
“Ha …..ha ha …….how come doing something bad only when you travel makes it right?”
“Or is it like your male thing that doesn’t allow female to smoke?”
“Male thing ……I never have it.”

“Dai, shut up now. Giselle, here is your smoke.”

And that midnight moon were masked in the cigar smoke, the smoke that clogged the sky and our lungs together. We had 4 hours until dawn and so decided to take our nap in the car.

Day 2

Woke up by a night duty police man on his way home, freshened up by our “ Vara Tea” (black tea) we moved in the city.

Early morning and the Chennai city is already busy. Women were busy with their morning works cleaning their streets and putting koelam. There are people rushing in for work, school already. Chennai is a colorful mixture of various lifestyles. There are people that move in merc. There are crowds that travel by local train. Metro, yeah it is coming soon……..but the traffic that metro works give is already there. Tamilnatu ‘idly, vada, sambar’ filled our morning belly.

We checked in phoenix mall and waited for Mr. Selva. Selva is my school friend. He is a guy of his own nature. When we had our friends together we never had shortage of laughter. Infosys, IT mid-night schedule and there he is there all crazy and tired. 

The younger generation for today’s era works really hard. But for what?.......is it constructive….well I never know”

Giselle came back taking bath and freshening up in the mall restroom.
Guys, what? We are in a road trip right?
“There is no plan for boarding right?”

Well there isn’t any plan now :)

And so we passed our time in the hot sun and in the sea breeze of marina. While we are catching some colorful birds in the lagoon inside theosophical society.  Karthik finally called.

“Thambi sorry pa, konjam late adichu.”
We decided to call it a day and so we descended into karthik’s apartment sneaking like hard trained robbers. 

Friends and friends and more friends that is all that is needed in life………………………..
Hey did I tell you Cleopatra is a BBW so she can accommodate ten people with ease. 



DAY 3

And so did the morning arose and so did our journey continue…….into a never known destiny…without the thought of tomorrow …… without the worries of today it went on into that heart of this country.
Deviating from NH45 we Relinquished the old chola history and heritage at srikalahsti, we hoped for our salvation like sri (spider) kala (cobra) hasti (elephant). From history to astonishing present, the present that precedes future, yeah we landed with special permission at sriharikota.
Finally we reached and boarded for night at Nellore.

DAY 4

Nellore –“nell oor”, the paddy town has its own history. Under ashoka, under cholas, under telgu chodas ( cholas) the history of this town is unique. The forts, the dargahs are all not be missed
It’s time for us to meet an interesting family next morning. Family of sweeya khilji, Sweeya’s mom and dad had a unique hindu-muslim love story to tell us.

“Hey raja  what were you doing all these days?
For so many days you did’nt call me?
You didn’t feel like calling me eh?”
 “Its not like that sweeya….”
“ I was little busy.”

"Can you two please stop now” ………”yeah guys, please stop now.”

"Ok guys where are we going now???"
“What about Godavari?”
“You mean Godavari river ride khilji?.”

 Kavali, Ongole and finally Vijayawada.  Vijayawada is one of the big cities in Andhrapradesh.  Taking the breeze in Krishna for sometime, we travelled to Rajahmundry.

 From cauveri to Krishna to Godavari…this is my country. It is a land of history, the land of saga, every 100 mile here will have a different folklore, a different story to tell.
Pleading, bargaining we arranged our love “Cleopatra” to be delivered in Yellandu through a lorry.

DAY5

It’s time for Godavari, the time and water was perfect for the sail and our little cruise started its journey.
Behold that beauty, the beauty that took breath out of us. As the sun arose charming the waters with its golden spree it send a shiver. There were shrill and husk in everybody.
There is no one but nature’s presence there. As the boat cruised through the opposing tide for the next 12 hours, the river and wind sang to the mystic sky’s tunes.

 Rajamundhry –pattiseema-gonduru-paapi hills- perantapalli- sri ramagiri. And its’s evening already. It’s a journey one ought not to miss.

It is a journey where nature holds your hand and guides you. She, ‘mother nature’ will communicate with you showing her breath taking beauty.

From sri ramagiri to bhadrachalam  to yellanadu we walked, ran, took auto, bus.
We were waiting for Cleopatra in  yellandu.

“Dude where is she?”
“Why she hasn’t arrived yet?”
“Dude that lorry driver…He is sick man.”
“Cleopatra is gone………guys”

“Cleopatra is gone nowhere subbu”. “See there….”.
There she came with few more scars and dents to add on to her beauty.

Its 300 odd kilometers to Hyderabad so we had to say somewhere for night. Wondering what to do  we were offered a stay by rambabu our lorry man.

Yellandu was famous for one thing coal. Most of the people here work with the coal mines.

Rambabu had simple but a large family…. His mom, wife and his three children.
Our surprise presence added some ripples in the family he but it soon settled and the family was ready to welcome it’s guests. Andhra’s own gongura pachadi, roti, steamed rice and the roasted palakayalu made our bellies swell. The terrace of the home and open sky welcomed our sleep for the night.

“Thambi, Rambabu’s two younger kids are not going to school pa.”
“I know na. They are saying since all are girl kids, they have stopped the elder two from going to school. It is sad na”
“ What can be done to it Giselle?”
“Well let’s see.”

Day 6

Before we have got up from bed Giselle have taken those kids to nearby taulk office to get their birth and community certificates.

Maybe it is a good start………………….

We confronted Rambabu and his wife and lectured him to educate the kids.
 Finally we departed from rambabu and those little kids; yeah we were promised about the kids education.
We moved  to Hyderabad.

 Hyderabad is a city that has grown big and fast in recent times. The IT bloom that came along took Hyderabad to some distance. Hyderabad, the lion’s abode welcomed us. It’s been days since we were travelling and it’s been a momentous journey. The charminar, the qutb sahi’s tombs, the chowmahalla palace, the golkonda fort all spoke heritages while the modern Hyderabad and much more to tell…….

Hey,Hyderabad briyani and haleem is not to be missed for any thing…………………………..

That night we stopped in Hyderabad…………and you know our date has done 1500 odd kilometers……………..hmmmmmmmmmm………she is still dating us

Day-7

Hyderabad to Gulbarga, gulbaraga to solapur and pune.  In pune we picked up minoli, my old good friend who has descended from Mumbai to join us. Minoli is one of the very old friends who introduced me into a different world, from then on I had a little purpose added on to my life.

“Hey guys how’s the trip so far?”
“The trip is awesome minoli…………Cleopatra is awesome……….”
And the voices echoed ‘subbu’…  

“Cleopatra has really been awesome…..she is awesome”
A short stay for night in pune and with Cleopatra now fully packed moved on to goa.

Day 8

Pune –kolhapur – panjim……………..our road trip is supposed to end here when we meet Anton and Natalia.
 
Anton and Natalia are a lovely couple, they are insane, idiotic and blessed. Anton is a Spaniard. He was running a firm on his own until he decided to sell it off and settle of with his love Natalia in India. Natalia is a kokan anglo-indian. She runs her little school, teaching the konkan kids.
Somewhere in ‘Panjim’ we were supposed to meet.  Panjim needs no say right?  ..Shop, dine, relax, party, admire, adventure everything is here.

Now where are this Natalia and Anton. Its evening already and by now we are supposed to be in their big villa relaxing and getting ready for our week long party.

Anton is not replying, no one knows their residence. Their only connection is Anton phone which is ringing on and on with no answer from the other end.

And then someone’s smart phone beeped…….update on facebook from natalia
 Hey trekking in Western Ghats…and there is this photo where Anton and Natalia were hanging down a rope.

Anton has totally forgot about us and our visit. Natalia has no clue that we are here.
Now then we travelled to ‘valpoi’ and started our ascend to ‘mollem national park’.

Hmm the ‘Western Ghats’ is unique. It is flooded with tourists especially foreign tourists. But the saddest part is there is too much industrial with mining ores and stuff. From mollem we reached dudhsagar falls – the sea of milk falls. It’s really a sea of milk falls ……..like a milk the water showered down and our eyes just got transfixed there.

There finally Anton and Natalia met us. Anton guided the fully dumped Cleopatra through the difficult tracks to ‘Devil’s canyon ‘. 

And so did our journey end................

We camped there in the deep woods with the canyon’s silence telling various tales of lost souls.
There in the deepest woods, we sat there laughing, giggling and dancing.
I hoped this day will stay like this forever……………..

She was there glistening and shinning in the moon lights. She looked more beautiful tonight.
I couldn’t resist anymore; I went and hugged and kissed her……..Cleopatra I love you……..

Crak …..plak ,……….tup……and there broke that wheel rim and the wheel  rolled down  the deep valley leaving cleopatra crippled. Dup……dum……….and there something blew inside.

How are we to go back now?” ………..the voices echoed back.
There lay our date…………fed up with us now……………or has she?
How we got back, the journey back is another story to tell.

Well it’s true; the journey, the destiny, the ride ……………it never matters as long as you travel with your friends. Go hop on with your friends and ride somewhere now………………………









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