Thursday, January 20, 2005

The road trip (Part 1)

Last week I went on a three day trip from Visakhapatnam to Vijayawada. The deal was to visit some interesting places between these two cities so that they could be a part of tour that a friend of mine - RJ was planning to organise in Jan 2007. He made a short trip last year along this area but this time he wanted to do a bit more research about the hotels to stay and eat along the way. Tentatively the plan was to stay one night in Kakinada and another in Machilipatnam and use the days to visit nearby town and villages. We decided to start at 6 in the morning on 16th and eat breakfast somewhere after Ellamanchili.

The day started off well, we managed to leave by 6.30, even though I slept for few hours the previous night (my extended family was in sankranti revelry mode that mainly constituted of playing three cards and visiting a 24 hour coffee shop of a local hotel into the wee hours of the morning). The new highway was smooth and empty, in no time we reached the steel plant zone where we took the "Anakapalle and Ellamanchilli" by-pass. Over the years, a detour through the steel plant has been the favourite route for many non commercial travellers considering the fact that heavy duty lorries avoided this route as it involved paying toll twice.

The area beyond the steel plant was completely god forsaken until NTPC decided to set up a thermal power unit. Even as recent as 1997, the land rates here were about Rs.30, 000 an acre. NTPC gave a compensation of 1.2 lakhs an acre without the guarantee of a job in the unit (while acquiring land for steel plant the govt gave local rates but also gave a job per family) ever since then, fuelled by the previous government's mode of sanctioning large tracts of land for various industrial zones, the land rates are touching the roof (Rs. 25 lakhs an acre for a road side plot and the price tapers down proportional to the distance from the road) and are showing no signs of abating. Imagine how financially brilliant I am, when in 1997, I purchased a motor bike for Rs. 45,000 (my savings in Germany) even as some people were trying to sell me a piece of land in this zone for 25K an acre.

Anyway, getting back to the road trip, the first intended stop was Etikopakka, the wooden toy village. In this village for over hundred years, craftsmen have been producing lacquered finished wooden products that were sold mostly at fairs and temple in the local region. Some of you may have heard the term lakka pidatalu, little wooden kitchen set that is still very popular in spite of the plastic variations available in the market. However, due to difficulties in production due to the hindrance of the forest department as the wood was a forest produce and due to difficulties in making the products, the whole industry was on the verge of disappearing. It was due to some NGOs in the vicinity that the industry was revived. Once certain critical mass of trained craftsmen were available, few of the local persons got involved in the trade and have started making some wonderful products using natural colours. (pics posted in this blog)

I thought there should be some decent places to eat on the highway after Ellamanchili but then the day was being celebrated as mu-kanumu (which incidentally was the previous day but since it was a Saturday, a day when most of the north andhrites restrain from eating meat) and most of the local markets like Paravada, Achutapuram, which normally are vegetable markets, were filled with chicken and mutton sellers. None of the shops or eating places were open. However, I was sure that some places near Adda Road (an intersection on NH 5 that connected the tribal areas on Eastern Ghats behind Narsipatnam and the coastal areas beyond S.Rayavaram) but that was not the case, most of the shops were closed and the meat sellers were having a field day. Adda Road is a settlement that developed only along the junction, so by going left... u-turn... left... u-turn... left... u-turn and left one would complete the trip of the settlement and reach the starting point. We found a small place with a typical aluminum idli vessel on a smoke-less chula (a coal fired stove with a smoke chimney) but the idlis weren’t done as yet. While the driver and I went to relive ourselves 'around the corner' (which in real terms did not exist in this place), RJ plonked himself on the wooden bench inside the 'hotel'. By the time I came back, RJ had a plate of three steaming idli's in front of him. In no time, the place was filled with people either eating or taking a 'parcel'. With our hunger satiated, we headed to Etikopakka.


actually wanted to end the first part after Etikoppaka but considering that it would be part of the next blog, I decided to put up two pictures as a bait to read my next part :)


wooden products




wooden products 2

15 comments:

SeaSwallowMe said...

you're the supreme potentate of travelog-writing in these parts, suresh. very few blogs come anywhere close.

loved the trip .. wish it would go on forever. like my almost-4-yr-old has gotten into the habit of asking .. ".. and then what happened ??"

nice photos. why don't you post the whole album from the trip .. would love to see pictures of the places you're talking about.

that display of wooden toys in the photo reminds of the wooden-toy-vendors inside dakshinachitra :) ... and those are gorgeous colors - those are natural dyes, you said ?? .. wow !

Gentle Sunshine said...
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Gentle Sunshine said...
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Fizo said...

Suresh,
Ah! You brought back memories of so many towns and villages I have lived in. Anakapalle, Narsipatnam and Vizag. I never believed that I'd be reading about these towns online...WOW! It was like reliving all those moments. Felt sad to hear about Etikoppaka. My father who used to work for the Forest Dept would routinely visit Etikoppaka and bring all those shining toys from there. I am glad that the industry is being revived.
Loved the anectodes you interperse in between. Oh please please please do continue...

void said...

nice desc, imp and gorgeous photos.. damn man! how I wish to go there now :(

Reshmi said...

the energy of the day has gotten to me!! wanna comment before i read :-D

lovely pictures - reminds me of the wood and clay toys i bought from chanpattaNa - a famous toy making region in karnataka. my india trip was hightlighted by the number of toys i bought where ever i went!! promise to come back and read the whole blog :-)

and Sunny - that was a super comment - i am still grinning!! :-))))

bottled-imp said...

hey thanx ssm. you are quite generous with your praise :)) maybe i could put up the pics on yahoo or perhaps create another blog on blogspot just for the album... and yes, the toys in the pic are all natural coloured. the whole process of adding colour to lacquer is extremely interesting to watch.

lol GS. you never fail to put a smile on my face with ur comments. wonder what you daydreamed about? anyway am waiting for that intelligent sounding comment of yours :))))

fizz, lady u grew up in that part of the world? am pleasantly surprised. always thought u were a hyderabadi. good to know that the blog has brought back nice memories for you. if you have ever visited E and if you visit it now, there is hardly any change in this village. still extremely dusty, still filled with cart loads of sugarcane... about the crafts there are still about 200 families working in the craft

thanx void. or rather "thank you very much" ;-))

lol resh. i have recently seen the new chennapatna toys. they are brilliant with that dull matt finish. few years ago, they tried to produce products that are similar to Etikoppaka but the quality was poor. Right now I dont know the story behind the new toys that C is producing but someone seems to have put in lot of effort into it. however, C toys are chemical colours so you have to check if they are non toxic.

CogitoErgoConfusum said...

i'm getting terribly repetitive here, but i really enjoy these languorous travelogues of yours...keep 'em blogs coming,dude...

on the down-side,damn! haven't been to a single one of the places you mentioned :((...i dream of doing a road-trip of india on bike some day...until then,have to settle with calling you a lucky @$%^!...:))

yet another1 said...

imp, do u really need to dangle bait? we're ever-hungry for your documented wanderings! :))

Fizo said...

err imp...I *am* a Hyderabadi first and foremost...! just spent 6 years of my life in those regions...6 very eventful years I must say !

buckwaasur said...

dude...i am soooo jealous of u...can't visit india for at least 2 more yrs...grrrr

bottled-imp said...

hey cec, calling me names you @!@#@! :))) and about the Q u asked in my previous blog, no i dont keep journals. i wish i was disciplined enough to do so but i am more happy chatting with people and later surf channels in the hotel room.

ano, thank you for the kind words but on the other hand did you not like my bait? ;-))) i thought they are nice pics.

oops fizz, as i said on DB, i do know that you are a first and foremost a hyderabadi :)) but wanted to know where you studied telugu as you once mentioned you know things like 'shastitatpurusha samasam' (which incidentally i completely forgot after my inter telugu exam). so now i know that you lurked in the same regions i was in.

dogmatix said...

great imp! love the way u narrate. the pics are beautiful. i have seen the toys b4 in chennai, they sell for something like 10Rs a pair, which i feel extremely guilty about since they are gorgeous. I didnt know what they were called uptil now. Thnx !

bottled-imp said...

buck, staying away from india for two whole years... that a real long time. i am in awe of people who love to be in india but still manage to stay away for long periods. i know it is not eay... i cannot stay beyond a year.

bottled-imp said...

dmx thanx for the comment. but if the stuff was genuinely veg coloured, it cannot be cheap. for rs. 10, i purchased a small bell at the source. for rs.1000 i had a small basket of toys. in chennai i have seen them at design stores, temple tree, dakshina chitra and certainly not at the government shops.