Day 37 - Melur to Poondi
The final frontier has begun. It brings mixed feelings as this daily routine of walking feels entrenched into my life. I have no doubt that the simple exercise of walking and exploring new territory has triggered something in my brain to help me grow as a person and reduce the draining negative thoughts that previously consumed me.
Walking is punishingly slow, however it provides that magical time to think and provide clarity of thought. Patience is needed as daily milestones are met and then seamlessly you are witness to ideas evolving in your mind. I smile as I pass by the villagers on the banks of the river - who stop their morning activities to curiously wonder what I’m doing there - excited by the abnormality of the occasion. I sit down and enjoy a chai as a crowd gathers around me - we share this unique combination of English, Tamil and sign language together before I eventually depart and continue my path of the day. In the distance, as I walk, I hear the calls from behind … it's the kids screaming and waving to say one last goodbye.
I cross over the Grand Anaicut, where I exit Srirangam Island - and it is at this time that I almost instantly develop sharp pains in my stomach that are met with that awful nauseous feeling. I buy a coconut for myself from a guy who is lying down in the shade nearby. We sit down next to each other in silence for some time as we sip back the hydrating coconut water. There is a shared appreciation but no need for any words to be spoken.
I load up my bag with water and coconuts and head on my way breaking down the rest of the day into smaller goals - I really wasn’t feeling well and this made it easier to motivate myself - my only hurdle behind the multiple painful trips behind the bushes. Every step bringing me closer to a destination that I still had no idea where...
I walked past a village and was stopped by this man who asked where I was from and when I mentioned I was from Australia - he exuberantly started to jump up and down and reached for his mobile. He searched through his phone and pointed to a +61 number - it belonged to his cousin who lived in Melbourne who was a Catholic pastor of the church from his local community and I gave him my phone number to get in contact with me later. After about 30 minutes he returned on a motorbike with his friend and came with a smorgasbord of treats and drinks! Even though I wasn’t feeling well I had to be polite - a decision I would later regret! He was desperate for me to come back with him - in a way I look back and I wish I had given myself a bit more leniency with ‘walking’ across India, so I could have taken advantage of these types of situations. But would of ruined the authencity of the trip.
I am always sorry to see the people I meet go - as I follow my impulses and turn left in the fork of the road. I often wonder how many people that I’ve come in contact with in my life, even those that I’ve only ever looked at - what if - or why didn’t I? I have never been a believer in pre-determined fate, however one can only ponder life’s crossroads and fortunate circumstances that bring individuals together to share a special experience - to bond or even just share a smile. We meet and then go forward in opposite directions - and ask the question of ourselves - will we ever see each other again?
I arrived at Poondi to see a sign saying accommodation available in the Basilica. How random - a Catholic pilgrimage centre located on the banks of the Kaveri River? It was a no brainer for me to go and check this out, arriving and met by the priest before I was allowed to check in. I felt compelled to say I was a devout Catholic as at this stage I was battling and desperate to stay there and didn’t want any potential issues to arise. It was a beautiful church, however I couldn’t quite place as to why there were emus in cages there...
Religion is an integral part of India - every day I walk past churches, temples and mosques. Whilst I am agnostic I look at the power of faith and its ability to help one through adversity - after all it is probably the greatest source of hope throughout history. In western culture, with organised religion playing a less significant role in peoples’ lives, I feel it is important we all attempt to find ways to attain positive meaning from adverse events and work towards a society based on love and compassion for all.