A fulfilling outing with friends

A fulfilling outing with friends

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Tags: travel , musing

How an planned ordinary trip to Kodaikanal gave an truly extraordinary experience.

I was in my fourth year of PhD. During this time, I was going out on trips with my friends, one of which I had described earlier. We were more than half done with our PhDs and were looking to have some time together on picnics before life gives us more responsibilities. Its often difficult to get many people together for the same trip. But in the February of 2018, about eight of us successfully planned a trip to the hillstation of Kodaikanal. The group was quite gender balanced: 4 men and 4 women. Also there were two kids additionally.

The journey from Trichy to Kodaikanal wasn't great. We had started around 4am in the morning and were sleepy. The breakfast we ate in a restaurant near Kodaikanal created left us with a bad stomach. These combined with ascending of hills and navigating hairpin bends enroute to the Kodaikanal wasn't a pleasant experience. After reaching the booked cottage at Kodaikanal, we started our picnic.

A truly fulfilling experience happened that day. We went to a park in Kodaikanal (I don't know which). It was a large one without any theme park like distractions. It was just plain open space with a small pond in the center. After having our meals, we started playing - like kids (and along with kids). One of the kids had brought an inflatable ball. There was nothing special in the ball and the ball was also not fully pressurized. We played simple throw and catch. Astonishingly, the experience felt quite awesome. I don't the exact reasons, but it just felt awesome. Ten of us, playing like kids a very simple game. We were laughing and making fun of one another all the time. Whether it was the cool weather or the large open expanse, I did't know what made us feel wonderful at that point of time. But in hindsight, after reading Digital Minimalism, I realize now that it was probably the experience of being with friends in a very social environment that made it feel awesome. This is something that doesn't happen in our research labs back in college. Also, this was in sharp contrast with us being glued to our mobile phones or laptops during free time.

An large open space with dried grass and a small pond in the center

Figure 1: The park of fulfillment - a seemingly bland open space.

This experience left us very happy. One of my friends remarked that when she came to Kodaikanal before, it was a hurried trip along with her husband to see as much places as possible - this gave her no time to settle down and enjoy a place. In contrast, we had spent the best part of afternoon in this place. We had time to absorb the surroundings and and enjoy it.

In the night of the first day, I went to the terrace of the cottage in which we were staying. I was amazed to see lots of stars in the sky. Back in Trichy, stars are hardly visible due to light pollution. But here in Kodaikanal, the light pollution was much less and the sky was twinkling with lots of stars. I called my friends to the terrace to experience this wonderful sight. The day concluded with a campfire.

Apart from this, we also went out for the usual outing - boating in the Kodaikanal lake, the Bryant park and a cycling trip around the Kodaikanal lake. This was quite ordinary and something that people have done plenty of times.

The trip concluded with a visit to the pine forest. There too we had a good time as we spent quite a lot of time playing with the ball (which by this time was quite depressurized). Later that night, we travelled back to Trichy to conclude a very fulfilling holiday. I've gone on quite a few picnics, but this is one which I'll remember for a long time.

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