Ride to Deomali Peak, Duduma Falls, and a visit to Ashakiran hospital, Koraput, Odisha

Tilak Francis

Active Member
The year was 1997. I just completed my UG final year exams in the month of November and was looking for a long journey, something to feel the break I needed from the hectic studies which kept me occupied for three long years. Soon I thought about my cousin brother living in Koraput, Orissa. He was working for Asha Kiran hospital as a social worker. My plan was to travel along with my classmates (travelled during January 1998) who were from Vijayawada and then to travel alone to Vizag where my brother would come to pick me and take to Ashakiran in Koraput district which was 175 km away from Vizag.
But the plan of God was different that gave me lifetime memories to cherish. More of my friends joined me for the journey to Vijayawada. We were spending two days in Vijayawada, visiting Prakasam barrage, Machilipatnam beach and Gudiwada. A day before I was supposed to take a train for Vizag, I sent a telegram to my brother that I am coming and he has to come and pick me up from Vizag railway station.
The next day my Friend Jhansi put me in the train to Vizag. Seeing a group of 5 college girls seated next to me, told them that I speak only English and Tamil and requested them to see to that I meet and go with my brother in Vizag railway station. The girls were very friendly and one of them told me that she did her schooling in Chennai and started conversing with me in Tamil. They were buying whatever vendors passed by our compartment and were offering me all that they ate. After reaching the Vizag railway station, I got down and waited for my brother. The girls were very helpful and stood for 20 minutes with me along with their relatives. Wanted to be brave or trying to be, I don’t know, I told them that I would wait and manage. They left and after few minutes of waiting, I started feeling that I should not be spotted as stranger and give in mishaps. Instead I took a bold decision to travel alone. Took an auto and uttered state express bus stand. The auto driver was talking to me in Telugu, i was cautiously talking back in broken single words in Telugu like avunu, ekkada, entha, malli , tharovaatha and many other words and tried my best to show that I am a native.
After arriving at the state express bus stand , i got down and walked searching for the bus bay for Onukadeli which I remember during our family trip to attend by brothers wedding, as the left corner most in the bus stand. I enquired the “may I help you” counter near that bay for the timing of the bus. The person was very friendly and after knowing that I only speak English apart from Tamil, he told me that the bus left just half an hour ago and the next bus is only the next day morning. Then he told there is a bus which goes to Jeypore in Orissa which is 40 km away from Lamtaput, the place I am going. He took me by hand and told the conductor of the bus in Telugu, that this person knows only English and make sure he gets to Ashakiran hospital in Lamtaput. After that, the driver and conductor treated me specially and the bus started moving. It was 10.30 in the night when the bus reached Beja junction. This is the place i need to get down to travel 20 km in opposite direction to reach Ashakiran hospital in Lamtaput. The people inside the bus told in Hindi chor which I could understand and insisted the conductor not to drop me there at that time. Then one passenger offered me to take me home in the next stopping. But conductor told me that I could stay with him in Jeypore in their room and said that i can come back here to Beja junction the next day morning when the bus returns to Vizag from Jeypore. I found that option to be safer and I stayed with driver and conductor sharing their food. They both adjusted in one bed and they gave me a separate bed for me. They did not understand my nature of the job as a physiotherapist but understood as some special medical professional. The next day morning around 5 am we started after having tea and after reaching Beja junction I bid bye to them with a heavy heart. I took their addresses too. After reaching Beja junction, I was waiting in a bus stop and a man started speaking to me in Hindi mixed English. He introduced him as a businessman who buys local produce and sells elsewhere. I saw a sick man being carried by two-person in bedsheet tied to the bamboo sticks. I had a few sample tablets for general ailments which I got from my dad who was a general medical practitioner. Seeing that man was having a high temperature, I gave a strip of Paracetamol. To my surprise and which was not my intention, they carried him back to their place, instead of bringing to Ashakiran hospital for further diagnosis and treatment.
A crowded jeep stopped by with people sitting on top. I put my suitcase on top of the jeep and stood on the back footplate of the jeep. I travelled for 20km in that footplate. After reaching Ashakiran hospital, the manager came and gave me my telegram that it was only received by them just an hour ago. She also told that my brother and his wife are staying in Tikkerpada village nearby to learn the local Gadaba language. So the manager sent me with a native to take me to Tikkerpada village. He took me in a bicycle and after reaching the river we boarded a boat with our cycle and sailed a 1km stretch. After getting across I finally reached my brother who was surprised to see me. I stayed with them for 19 days visiting upper Bonda tribe who were considered head hunters in Bonda Hills , experiencing Gadaba tribe and helping the hospital by teaching a pharmacist to operate a piece of physiotherapy equipment.
So now in 2020 after 22 years, I am going back with these memories wondering what God has in store for me to surprise this time.

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With my cousin Herold and My sister in law. Year 1998

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In the boat at Tikkerpada Lake 1998

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with Gadaba tribal people, while bird hunting. We have to run in the field with large nets to catch the flying birds from the fields after harvest.
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Harvest time, Tikkerpada village 1998

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In tribal Rainwear

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With Late Dr Alex and his wife Hannah at Bondo Hills.

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Trekking on the Bondo Hills carrying three months basic food items for Late Dr Alex family.

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Taking my best shot with Bondo tribe's bow and arrow.



So now in 2020 after 22 years, I am going back with these memories wondering what God has in store for me to surprise this time.

The sequel begins....

Tentative plan:
20 November 2020 - Vellore to Vijayawada
21 November 2020 - Vijayawada to Lamtaput, Odisha via Bhadrachalam, Malkangiri
22-25 November 2020 - local visits
26 November 2020 - Lamtaput to Vijayawada via Arakku.
27 November 2020 - Vijayawada to Vellore.
 

Tilak Francis

Active Member
Thursday 19/11/2020

I arranged everything as much as possible at my home to have a routine life in my absence. Packed the via terra claw bag and the magnetic tank bag. checked the DSLR camera and packed with three lenses. Tried sleeping early but could not have complete rest. My mind was preoccupied as I am doing a week-long trip on the bike for the very first time.
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Resqtech micro tyre inflater bought for this ride at Rs 999/-

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The long-lasting battery life of Ptron bass buds for my GPS voice navigation support.

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My clumsy nature of packing /unpacking

Friday 20/11/2020:

Day 1:

I woke up to the alarm at 3 am. I was surprised to see my mom packed beef rolls and gave me a coffee. I quickly took bath, got ready and left the place by 4 am after a short prayer.

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Starting Odometer reading 49266 km.

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Road map for the day 1 ride.

Near Vallimalai, I got scared that I had a flat tyre. Made a quick prayer. At 4 am what more could I have done. Later, I recognised that I was riding over a patch of uneven tarmac that made me felt a wobble like a flat tyre.

At Ponnai and beyond there was thick fog wetting my visor like raindrops and the visibility was only a few feet.

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Near Ponnai. Nice road but encountered heavy fog with 5-meter visibility.

Slowly the beautiful Nagari mountains appeared with the dawning of sunlight.
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Near Nagari - Pallipattu road


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Beautiful Nagari mountain which has Tala Kona falls


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Small stream near Puttur

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First leak break

Speed breakers in rural roads at every village were annoying as it comes in different numbers, heights and unwarranted.

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Beautiful fields of Marigold near Pallipattu-Renigunta

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Road work on progress, Pallipattu-Renigunta.

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The normal water flow of Penna river at Nellore. But on my way back it was flooded.


Stopped by for breakfast after crossing Nellore. In a way, I missed travelling with a friend, especially while eating alone. No chit chat. No one to share those riding moments which we would soon forget. Started again after replenishing.

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Breakfast stop just after Nellore

The ride was boring from Nellore to Ongole. A long stretch of highway with bridges way too long and high at Ongole. I was dumb to foresee the future like the politician who built it. Under the bridge, I could only spot a railway track. I filled 10 litres of petrol in a Hp petrol bunk close to Ongole.

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Water break while nearing Guntur

I got a phone call from one of the drivers from the institution I am working. I could not ignore as I know he was on long leave due to paralysis. So I tried swiping the phone screen on my bike mobile holder to get connected. With my hand gloves, I was trying hard to do it as the screen was not responding to my touch. My eyes were more focussed on the mobile than on the road. BANG!!! I crashed into the back of a load Van and fell on the right side of the road. I got up and my right elbow and shoulders were in severe pain. The van driver came and helped me to lift the bike. He went back to check his vehicle for damage and to make a claim from me. Since I braked turning my handlebar to left and so my headlight cap and rings were crushed along with bending of the right side of leg guard.

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The headlight cap and rings crashed

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Right side Leg guard bent close to the footrest.

I fell to the right side with an outstretched hand. I was sitting for some time on the bridge parapet wall. I was self-assessing and I was sure that I sustained no fracture. I know for sure that its only a ligament strain or a muscle sprain. I know it will take 3 days to assess clearly as the whole region will be in protective muscle guarding causing pain on a whole. The van driver left after checking and making sure that there was no damage to his vehicle. I too started my bike but I could not lift my right arm beyond 30 degrees at the shoulder. So I placed my right hand on the handlebar with my left hand and rode to Vijayawada. I was thinking God, that nothing untoward happened as fall from the bridge by being overthrown or run over by speeding vehicle when on the ground. The GPS showed a wrong location of William Carey guest house at Christurajapuram, Vijayawada. The innkeeper Ms Mounica sent me a WhatsApp location and I could reach the place in no time. I was clumsy in handling my luggage and my ear pod fell into a nearby ditch. I could spot it and put my hand into it as the water was clear (I must say to my satisfaction) and took my ear pod. Waterproof and was working fine. Thank God.

The room was neat and tidy with AC. The cost was 400/- per day. After settling down, took the last one roll that was packed my mom, as late lunch,
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A tidy room made untidy by my spread over luggage.

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Nice room with AC.

I went out to the hall to meet the guests who were staying there. I met three youths from Tamil Nadu who were working for the campus crusade organisation. Jebaraj was from Palani, Sam was from Hosur and John was from Avadi. They were involved in the youth ministry by creating Mobile APPs and getting connected to youths who are spending more time in the virtual world than with reality. They were sharing stories about how they could prevent some incidents of youth s suicides by providing counselling through mobile apps.

Later they introduced me to Vamsi who is the brother of the innkeeper. Vamsi helped me to buy the spare parts for my crashed headlight cap and rings (Rs 450/-). Vamsi also took me to the Royal Enfield showroom to get it fixed. The showroom service staff were not so kind and after paying 250/- without bill receipt they did fix the new parts with screws. Vamsi was very helpful as a local guy with language and shrewd knowledge on bikes. I could not ride in the local Vijayawada traffic as they are making their own traffic rules. So Vamsi rode and I sat as a pillion rider. I bought 1/2kg of oranges as my night dinner. Took a 1000mg Pyrigesic tablet to reduce inflammation and slept early by 9 pm.
 
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