Award winning travel writer Mr. David Garson was arriving with his wife Mrs. Ursula at Nedumbassery airport. The flight AI 690 is expected to land at 0305 hours. I must be there to receive them.
To reach airport from where I stay, it takes an hours journey. 1 to 2 AM is the most senseless hours of the day for anybody. How can one fully depend on a promised midnight wakeup alarm for that matter. So I made myself available for sure at the arrival venue. Reached airport parking area around 1.00 AM in the pick up vehicle.
The car was an Ambassador Mark-III locally known as Indian Benz. This chauffeur driven petrol car is one of the best and sturdy vehicle as regards Indian road conditions are concerned. This English model of 1940’s is now fully Indian and has good demand as a taxi.
Time never waits for anyone. My watch showed 3.00 AM. So I moved to the arrival lounge and received my guests after rightly identifying them. A well dressed couple of early sixties Mrs. & Mr. Garson were Aristocratic English in style, speech and behavior. Mr. Garson spends more time in England whereas ‘Ursu’ as David calls her, is there in Germany most of the time.
When I addressed him Mr. Garson, he just stared at me and silenced me for a second. “Name is for its sake and you can call me by that. I know you respect me as a guest. Then there is no need of using Mr as a prefix. Its all formalities which you may forget for the time being. That’s all.
Collected their luggage and was given the green signal for departure. Our destination was Quilon. Road was clear in that early hours and journey was very smooth. Introductory conversation between us progressed. A listening chauffeur was active and could keep his eyes and mind strictly on the highway. After an hours drive I felt the discomfort behind the wheels. Life is more important than time and hence I compelled the chauffeur for a tea break.
It was 5.00AM and one more full hour for the daylight to come. For a sleepless chauffeur that is the most dangerous hour to overcome. A Blessing in disguise came as an offer from Mr.Garson. He shared a packet of his favorite chewing-gum. I forced chauffeur to keep one in his mouth.. As expected, the external object in his mouth together with the chewing action, prevented the temptation of closing his eyes.
At Chavara, we took left turn from the highway and headed to the western side of Ashtamudi Lake in day light. The scenic beauty of a remote village in Gods Own Country was shown to us by the rising Sun. How can I pen down all the feelings it might have created in those foreigners mind.
Physical nature of neither of us was not conducive for enjoying nature at that time. Couple of hours drive after a sleepless night had made us all very restless. What exactly needed was a bed to relax and nothing more than that.
After the deviation from the highway we had already driven for more than half an hours drive. Mr. Garson could hardly hold himself from asking me, “Where are we heading to? Are we in the right direction? Have you been to this place before?” His worries took the form of questions.
Though I kept quiet, my lucky moment came just at that right time. While negotiating next left turn rising big red Sun caught Mr. Garson’s eyes. An imposing and impressive sight for a visitor from west. The specialty a tropical country can offer to an European. Just after a small abortion pill climb, we moved downward to the slope. He was taken aback by the second sight. Reflection of the very same red sun in the still waters of the Ashtamudi lake. He just could not control neither his response nor his mind from going to an imaginative world. Hence he never noticed our entry into Ashtamudi resorts.