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Solo in Karnataka By Nidhi Soratheeya

25th July 2017 Tuesday, 9.26pm


To The days, I spent doing the things I love. All by my self! To the travel, that made me a understood nature a little more! That still got me whenever I thought about it.
The beginner as a blogger! I know that Have written it in too details. But then I didn’t want to shorten it as I want to remember all of the moments. More than the contest, I am writing it for the self. Here we go!
And so the day came, when I was having somewhat 7-8 days leaves. And rather than a trek, I am planning to roam HP randomly. It was mid May, and Spiti was demanding a little more budget and also the days, as Rohtang was still closed. Spiti has got me since last 15-20 days. I tried Dhanushkodi, but it goes the same. And then I ended up with the Hampi, Karnataka. Was having a week. So I even planned Gokarna. And while reading a Gokarna blog, I came to know that someone runs surfing school over there. So I contacted the guy, if it is so. He said yes. And I kept it in my list. Due to periods, I couldn’t plan hampi first. So decided to go Gokarna first, and then Hampi. And so I set Madgaon, Goa as a stoppage. Gokarna was around 130kms. While Hampi is around 340kms from there.So,” Hampi along with Surfing”, that’s my super plan!. Neither the pre booked transport nor the accommodation.A day before, I tried to book the train tickets in Tatkal, but luck was not mine.

On Monday morning,10am. I was furious as I pinged everyone who wanted to travel with me. But none of them got the time to do so! This time, I didn’t want to go alone. More than their company, I need them to share my accommodation budget!! Honestly. I even decided to cancel the leaves. But not having enough patience to roam around the state. So after having a lot of back n forth, I packed my borrowed backpack through self motivation like, “If not now, then WHEN?”. And there I went. Reached the station and bought a general ticket for Madgaon. A beloved! Trekking partner, Keyur came to dropped me off. I even got some good suggestion for my travel from this man. There was such a crowd waiting for the train that I didn’t think that I am gonna get any place to stand even!. But I got the little place to sit, Finally!. It was 45◦ C. But the fans were off until the next four hours! Travel Mode!!
I couldn’t buy any dry snacks or safety mechanism when I was leaving. In the evening, The train coach got too crowdy as the MH starte due to students and working people. And I have started to starve! But needed to wait for the next morning. At night, the train was going through the Konkan rail route. And through tunnels. All I could do is the hear that sound! I wasn’t able to see anything. But still I was trying to smell the every station place. And almost a sleepless night, it was!
People were staring me at some point. Whenever I drag my bag! Even asked questions about what I am doing here with such bag? Where am I going! Conversations were going on in the morning. Took one coffee. And around 9.15am, I was standing at the Madgaon station. “The Great Goa plan”, the place of which people keeps on planning. But hardly could hit it!
It was the LOWEST budget trip!. I wanted to have some Idali but didn’t find it. Got Vadapao. And through google map, I started to walk towards bus stand. As the private Autos are too costly. When I got exhausted, I took a pilot ride. The uncle was cool and guide me about my destination journey a bit. Reached and enquire about Bus. And no direct bus running from there. I need to reach Karwar first and then from there I will get one. 11.30am, Karwar. It’s a beach village of Uttar Kannada. Just before few days, when I was seating in a free time, I was trying to imagine a road that has a ocean on the one side. And hills on the other!. So at that moment, I was experiencing the same!

I tooked another bus to Ankola and reached there. The Gokarna bus was about to come in 10-15 mins. When I reached there, it was a peak moment. And I was literally hungry. I saw a canteen having Idalis!. But not to miss my bus, I ended up taking wafers and a waterbottle only. And the bus came in meanwhile! The entertaining things were, First- Surrounding people were kept on staring at me like I came up from somewhere else! And the other was, “UTTAR KANNADA” People. They don’t understand English or Hindi! I even got problem enquiring the route. Whomever I asked, they started to replying in Kannada! Then I need to calm them down saying – “Hindi or English”!.When I saw their state bus route time table, I laughed. As I didn’t understand a word even, but still I was looking at it like a genius! So at last, I was in South!
I am actually fond of smell of the places I visit! I measure them with their smells at the first place! I differentiate the places through their smell also! And when I entered in South, I was like- ‘I am gonna take the photographs back but what about its smell? How I am going to take this scent back??” A bit disappointed!

The complete road enrouting to Gokarna was picturesque. Hungry, sleepy and tired!. But it’s the route only that kept me excited. Roaming texts of “Uttar Kannada” in mobile! My one of the favourite things. A boy with whom I conversed the longest in bus guided me to reach Belehittal as I reached Gokarna. Took a walk of around 3kms. And the destination was just near the sea shore through those narrowpassage. After 10 minutes, I found it! In the middle of a farm and surrounded with locals. There wasn’t any board regarding surfing. When I saw Sandeep at the garden, I asked him about Cocopelli. He said Yes. And I checked in. Tired and I was sweating completely. He was taking his lunch. Some Gujju Bhel kinda thing. He looked at my face, and asked me if I want to have some. And guess what, I couldn’t resist and ate spoonfuls from his plate.
When I asked about surfing rate, He said 2k per session of 1.5 hour! And I was down as it was half of the budget of my travel. But than optimizing like, I have came almost 1200kms for the surfing over here only. How could I go back without trying my hand on it?! That’s the thing I chose Gokarna for. So I decided to go for it. Still I was having some confused tiredsome look. He asked about accommodation, and I replied that haven’t booked anything yet. Will book it now. He was also providing rooms on rent so he asked me to check it. As it was the off season, he agreed to rent it on 500 per day!
He is having a pet dog named ‘Coco’. And everytime, he offered him the food, he used to call him –‘Coco-Ji’ sweetly!
I unpacked my bag and got freshen up. After having some rest, around 5.30 went to Sandeep. He is also having another guest named Shaad, from Australia. Met him and we went for a sunset with the surfboard. They were having their national surfing competition soon at Manglore, and Sandeep was going to be the one out of the three judges! Met another 4 hippies on the beach, from Austria. Shaad started to surf and we sat on the beach doing some funny gossips and drinking a beer!. We were on the middle side of the Gokarna main beach. It was bounded with the hills on its both ends. It was another beautiful sunset I have added in my life moments. How the waves were roaring!
The conversing with South went on like:

The South -“ Ohh! There you are! Back from your Himalayan Zone, hh!! Me: Haah! Indeed!. But I am here finally! Now make me witnessing something amazing!
And it happened. I found the magic in my next three nights, I spent on the shore. Listening the waves very clearly! For the first time. The place, again impressed me with its smell.
Local fish markets. Few general stores. 2 or 3 veg/non-veg dine ins. And lots of coconut trees! The fresh smell of fowers those Aunties are selling on a roadside. And high temperature!!
The place is having more Brahmins. It rained before a night. So we were having electricity problem. At night, me and Sandeep sat in a hammock and the rest were preparing a food for all of us!. Around 10.30, I finally ate! And it was boiled veggies in an Austria style! Having a bonfire session, and then went to sleep. Hearing those waves!
Day-3.
Next morning, got some sunshine moments. Shoot the surroundings. Met some local children. Love the way locals wearing sari here! The Surfing session started around 10am. The guy showed me how to carry the board on the beach. My arms are short enough so had to carry it on head. And next 20 minutes, he defined the body parts of the boards and also showed me that how to paddle, how will I balance, and when I will get and pose on the board. His last and only instruction was-I taught you how to get up and ride the waves here. Now out there in the water, It’s upto you that how you ride it by yourself. I could not help you there!
And then the time came, when I was experiencing the real time beach encounter. It was for the very first time, that I have been into that deep in the Ocean. I remembered the swimming pool moments!.
When Sandeep carried me into little deep water I started to fear and kept on telling him that I couldn’t feel the land. I couldn’t feel the sand. Though I knew how to swim, I couldn’t have the side over the waves! First half an hour the fear has more power than my excitement. I was totally afraiding. I learned that the swimming in a pool and in the Ocean are two different things. Pool will always be too calm but the Ocean!. Well, Calmness is not its nature. At a moment, I even blamed myself for being too adventurous even! It took an hour around to get through my fear.Have even drank salty water for many times. And due to it, eyes were even burning. I couldn’t keep it open for little long even. Each time, whether I finished riding my wave or even if I failed due to the short wave, I fall hardly from the board. The surface energy carried the board on the shore, and the board dragged me too!
Each time Sandeep carry me inside or I need to get up and go to him with the board. By balancing and paddling. Once I maintain the balance, we wait for the big waves to come up. Then I took charge as he pushed the board. When he shout ‘Up’, I needed to get and ride the wave. By carrying left leg little forward from the center and keeping the right leg little back! By doing this and having waves per waves, I was pretty good. I ride four waves meanwhile. My board balance even shocked Sandeep, as when he saw me at first, he thought that I am not going to balance the board even! He shouted in joy each time I ride the wave! By that time the fear has almost retired. In between, I did the awful efforts. Balancing, getting up and riding. And the hardest part is when I fell off from the board and hit the salty water.
Before riding the last wave, Guy asked me if I wanted too have one more. And I said ‘Yes’. And this time, we both shouted when I finished it. How completely I was feeling the every passing moment in that salty water. The last one was the coolest of all. I was just jumping and screaming only when I finished it. Surfing!! I did it! I was even didn’t mind coming here now. I actually swam in the ocean even. At that moment, my facial expressions saying it all. How sparkled my eyes were as I learned something totally new out of my fear. On that day, Sandeep couldn’t stop saying- ‘ Nidhi, I am proud of you. You were amazing! Etc’.
So that’s how nomadic my surfing thing went. Like I did many treks. And been to mountains. In the last one, I even saw Everest and the other highest peaks from the point. But this surfing thing and being into the ocean feel was something rare. Totally different. Where I ride the least and fell for the most. But the process won me over!
Well, but someone stole my chappal when we came out with the board. It was 12pm. And we both ran through the hot sand to our house.
On return he asked Shaad- ‘ Hey Macha, guess how was her session?
Shaad- Ohh! after looking a while, may be she learned how to balance the board.
Sandeep- No Macha. Her balance was amazing and she caught five waves even.
Shaad-Woahha! Natural surfing skills, she got them!’
Macha was a Tamil word fro brother.

As nobody was around, I couldn’t capture the real experience, but shaad clicked few photos later when we came up. Took a shower. And than we watched few surfing clips. Around 2.30pm we headed for the lunch. Walked around 2.5kms on Atmalinga temple road, one local restaurant was open. They ate fish-rice and I ate Rice-Sambhar! With onion, raw mangoes and Papad! And Lemon Soda. And let me tell you, that even than the idali sambhar, I liked Lemon soda and coffee the most. I took the first sip, I couldn’t resist. I drank the whole glass! It was the coolest taste of till the time. I ordered another one after finishing it, but the stock was finished! Alas.
Till the evening, Sandeep kept on praising me for the way I surfed. The restaurant was having completely Desi look.
In the evening, I went for Mahabaleshwar temple and Gokarna main beach. The temple has a cam spiritual vibes. It was made up with black rocks. Peaceful. When I asked security for entrance, he asked me back if I was from Kerala. I noded and said in little South tone that from Gujarat!. This main beach part was a tourist sport. And crowd was here.I saw one Kulfiwala who was making it the way like the one, I used to eat in my childhood!
Sunset checked. And way back to home. The coconut trees at the shore looking amazing. I bought some Chapati flour and veggie for food to cook. As I have told the guys that I will be cooking Gujju food for them. Due to no street lights, I forgot the pebble way through the main road. Finally reached home and cooked the food. Onion, potato, tomato mix veg and Bhakhri. A little thick chapatti kinda thing. They both were unable to speak ‘Bhakhri’, so they were calling it Chapaati. No electricity and it was around 10pm. We ate with a mobile flashlight. While eating, Sandeep- Nidhi, you gotta marry me, hh! Due to food perspective! They haven’t ate chapatti since their off season started. When they took their first bite, they were blown. ‘Nidhi , god bless you! Man. These Chapatis are fucking awesome! For those 3 days, I heard the F word at the frequency of 30/40 times per hour.
He even said. Nidhi, do one thing. Call your parents and tell them that you aren’t coming baack home. Stay here and join us in Surfing!
Me- Laughed. Haah, I wish! But they didn’t even know that I have come here! And then after dinner went to terrace. And Shaad bought some marshmallows. Super roaring waves and the rooftop surrounding was covered up with lots coconut trees. Lay down there and watched the stars through it. Turn by turn we shared the best of our life moments. Around 12.30am we got down. But still no electricity for the whole night then. Have hardly sleep for an hour or two. Sweaty sweaty!!
Next morning, Sandeep and I got some coffee and Idli. And I walked to the station road to rent an Activa. Filled the petrol and went back and picked Sandeep from there. We were going to explore the off side of the village. First went to Northside river, Gangtala. We drank the thing called ‘raagi’ which is made up from the jaggery. He showed the places of where they held cycling and kayak events in season. Ferry services were running there to reach Kumta easily. And even told that how the Gangavali and Aghanashini confluencing here and forming Cow’s ear shape. And thus the village having name Gokarna. From there, we went to Kudle beach. We trekked little down from the hill side by. And he sat there while I was roaming around. Here and there. The view of Kudle from here is looking like a foreign one. Almost greenish blue water surrounded with hills. And even in the summer time, it was pretty green.
I must say that Gokarna comes up with a full package. Ocean, Rivers, lakes, hills and forest in surrounding. In return, we drive through kotiteertha, a manmade lake that was bounded with temples in surrounding. We also bought a fish from the market as I have told the guy that I will try it today. I was consciously watching that aunty removing its fins and bones. How she cut it! Home. And he cooked fish curry and I cooked Bhakhri and rice. 3pm and we took the lunch. And though I tried, I couldn’t eat fish-curry. And ended up eating drumstick from it only!! Rested a while and in the evening went to Om beach. Which is 10kms away. We trekked down a little. And the guy went for a beer. And I sat on the shore. It’s named Om due to the OM shape it is making through the shores. It’s a little rockey Island. The meanwhile route was a eyecatchy. And its also showering lightly. The red sand rocks were looking cool. And 6.10 was the time. Sun has setted down. People were going back. Few boats were there.Orangish sky. Waves splashing on red rocks. And with the few wilder thoughts, I sat there.
10/10 for the surrounding routes of Gokarna! Back to home. No electricity and so we got upstairs and sat there listening the ocean. Around 10.30 again, took dinner and went for the rest places! A night ride!
The guy was a mere drunk, so I drove the Activa. We first went to the Saltpit which is at Sanikatta village around 8-9kms away from there. When he asked me to took the virgin road from the main road, I hesitated at first! As there was no street lights, and no one is in surrounding even. A new place and also he is a bit drunk. And I wasn’t carrying any safety thing even. But I couldn’t say him that drink thing, when he is asking me that why I am afraiding! Though I spent three days with him, but I couldn’t trust the Alcohol thing at that time! I just stopped an Activa. And convincing him to take the main road. But he said that it was the only suitable road to go there. After surfing, It’s the second time, that I was fearing like a hell!! He even said that I am his responsibility as I am staying at his place. And I came these far from the hometown. I should better enjoy these moments, as it’s not going to come back again! When he said such words, I calmed down a bit. And then though afraiding, but I drove. The last road that was taking us to the place was literally the guts demanding! Darkness and no lights. We drive from Bellekan village. I got happy if I saw any vehicle passing by.
And we reached there. I was even scared that the Activa was even shaking while driving it! The last diverged road view was awe! Narrowest road, rivers on both of its sides, almost a fullmoon view and total calmness! We stopped in the middle. And just took the joy of those moments. Living the nature at the fullest. And that was the moment, THE MOMENT I need to tell you all about. Well, they were seeming completely funniest . but at that time, It was the greatest adventure of the lifetime! But the guy was the best and I loved him for the way he showed me the Gokarna like never before. If I had chose to stay at any hotel place, then I couldn’t be able to explore these much. I wouldn’t be going to take any night ride even!

The drive was completely on rough roads and through hilly areas. At each five to ten minutes, I kept on questioning Sandeep that how far is this pit or that beach etc! And the poor guy kept me telling not to worry and to enjoy the moments. Infinity in those moments. We went to the Paradise beach passing through The Tadadi village. The funniest moments were the ones when we were passing through the forest area but we were afraiding of the dogs. But I showed him the trick of driving slow when we passed by the dogs, which my brother told me once!
We passed through the Leopard spotting place, and I drove a bit fast!. But the place, I told you!! Ocean on the left side and Hills on the right side. It was my first hilly drive! And I was doing good. And my questions regarded to the roads and destinations haven’t stopped till the end. And then via Kudle beach, we were returning. We stopped at one Closing Icecream shop. And I treated him with the Ice-cream. Few bikers were around that corner. Throughout the way people kept on starring as a girl is driving in the midnight. Talked a bit with that uncle. His Hindi was good and his smile even better!

We drove through the narrowest street, where only single Activa could get driven! We went back to RAMA Temple. It is the oldest temple of the town. To fill up our four water cans! Tricky roads! Went upto the temple and drank the water first. The water falls from the hills and the town people use this water to drink. It was 1 am! I was still didn’t getting the concept that though it’s just besides the ocean, how could the water be such sweet! Was taking the splashing waves fun. We returned than. And off for the sleep.
Next morning, I packed my bag went to the shore for the sunrise.Have to returned active also. Sandeep took me to the place where we ate idalis at 6 rs with Chai. I dropped him back and took my backpack. Also made him wrote the review in my diary! I hugged him and he wished me the best while leaving.
Me: I am leaving the same way as I came here at first, Sandeep. Sweating totally!
He: Laughed! Hey, listen. Keep wandering like this and keep smiling. And take care. He said something different also. But I didn’t remember now.
Me: You too. Take care!
With a broad smile, I left the place. In the way, I wished every local a goodbye who was knowing me out there.
When I started Activa, I was feeling super confident! Was excited for Hampi but now I didn’t regretting it for not visiting it at that time. This place got me setteled down there only. I returned the active. Now I was going back to Ahmedabad via Madgaon and staying a night at Madgaon. I tried to book the train tickets in Tatqal but net wasn’t working since the morning. No cyber café nearby. I called a friend and he was trying it. So I thought it will get booked. I took the bus to Kumta. But then came to know that ticket wasn’t booked. The bus thing was not a good option. Due to travelling hours and also the rates. O
So decided to return in the same Ernakulam-okha train. And then changed bus for Karwar and next was of Madgaon. The Goa villages were beautiful! And their houses too. One can plan the road trip from Goa to Gokarna. It will be a hit option with the views of hills and beaches. Again reached half way through walking observing the port city’s beauty and their people. Sweating in the summer hit. I took the pilot ride and arrived at the hotel. And I got fab when I open the door. It’s having a huge balcony with the mirror glasses and coolest view of the hills from faraway! I dropped the backpack and sat there for sometime. I watched myself merging with the person I was used to be in my childhood. How confidently, freely and alone I was standing there! How far I have come from the person I was used to be. Did some rest and in the evening, I went for the Benaulim beach. Colva is also nearest to my place. And I decided to go for the Benaulim. Got some Goa food at the café at the ground floor. The unclegave the information for how to reach Benaulim. And so I took the state’s city transport buses. Which dropped me Benaullim at just for 10! The route!! Catchy! Again from the bus stand, walked around 2kms and there I was!! Sunset was done. It was the last one of the travel days. Goa has much more in store than just Alcohol. It was a ‘Hello’ visit to Goa! Around 9pm, came back to hotel. Packed some food and ate it in the hotel. Which was a not so good experience. Slept than!
So sunshine, and I was all set to get back with the stories to be told! I checkout around 9 and reached railway station. The train has arrived earlier than its routine. So I just kinda run as want to get the seat!. But I got the seat easily as its having minor crowd at that station. Window seat! In the front seat, there was Gujju parents with their two kids. Those kids made the journey easier! They appreciate the travel while doing conversation. They even forced me to eat the one only Gujju Chevda and also the raw mangoes those they brought up from Karwar.
As it was the day time, I could see the trains passing through the tunnels easily! Whenever it entered the tunnel, the vibration passes through the ears. At some points, the tunnels were made from cutting the red rocks. Tunnels and Konkan Railway route! Just the beauty at its best. I still imagine that much greener it has get as it’s a Monsoon season. I wonder that on some days, I might go to Goa only for its journey! After two to three stations, the train got its routine crowd. You couldn’t move your legs even.
At 7am next morning, I have reached Ahmedabaad. Finally after 22 hours of a general travelling! I completely MADE and MAD it! Though I was tired but there’s a shine in my eyes that I brought with myself.
So the first complete solo trip it was. Gokarna, you made a place in my mind! Thanks to the IRCTC who didn’t let me book the tickets! Cost cutting!! And also the May hit for the off season!
I touched the South border!
And this is what I understood from this travel. That adventure is not only in just doing some sporty or unusual activities. But adventure is in fighting the fears those are hidden in your self. And when you do so, you realized the endless energy within you. The real adventure is in seeking the change continuously and in nourishing your inner self.
So, when was the last time you did something for the first time?!

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