A lesson from the woods of Periyar – Kerala

After visiting the Padmanabhaswamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, I continued my journey to the Periyar National Park. Periyar National park is located in Kerala and it is one of the largest Tiger reserve areas in India. During my college days, I always used to dream to get lost in this kind of dense forest and get out as a survivor just like a Bear Grylls. I was a huge fan of him during my college days.

I got down at Kumily at 10:30 PM and took a rest for a night at one of the Hotel. Next day morning, sharp at 5 AM, Shaaji came to pick me up for the open jeep jungle safari into the Periyar National Park. Shaaji was going to be my jeep driver for the jungle safari. At 6:30 AM we took an entry into the Periyar national park. One has to pay for an entry into the Periyar forest. Early morning time has strong possibilities when you can get a glimpse of the wild animals. Shaaji was alert throughout the safari. Whenever he sees any animals, he immediately stops the Jeep and let me see them. He was an amazing person. But I was about to meet one of the most amazing people in Gavi village.

The Jeep Safari

Gavi is a tourist village inside the Periyar forest which is very famous for its cardamom and coffee farming. Few people from this village also work for the Kerala tourism department. Basically, the forest department allocates one personal guide for each tour group who will guide you to visit the Gavi village and the nearby forest area. And my guide was Muniyandi. Muniyandi was a 60+ aged man. A dark face with gray hair, gray mustache, and sparkling eyes. While he was walking towards me for the introduction, his walk was as energetic as a young man’s walk. “Hello, Sir! Myself Muniyandi. You can call me Muni”, Muniyandi introduced himself. And we started the forest trail.

The Periyar Forest Area

By looking at my energy and excitement for the forest, Muni chose the different trail instead of the official one. He told me that this trail will give us a more beautiful glimpse of the forest along with some adventures. And if we got lucky, we could see the tiger too. And my excitement got doubled. Along with the trail, I started the conversation with Muni. He was a very shy guy. On my every question, first, he gives a cute smile and then his reply. He told me that he lives with his wife who is working in the Cardamom farm in the forest area. He told me his story that how he spent his entire life in this forest along with his wife, his two sons who are currently working in Bangalore. He shared his love towards this forest. He also shared the struggle he faced for his daily living and for his son’s education. He also shared how his wife supported him during all his struggles. I was getting more interest in Muni’s story, rather than exploring the forest. During the whole conversion, he had the continues smile on his face. When I asked about his earning, I was shocked by his reply. 250 rupees a day. Adding his wife’s earning it becomes 500 rupees for his entire home. I was shocked!! 500 rupees a day for the entire family for their living. But Muni has no complaint with it. He was happy with whatever he is getting.

The place where we took a halt

It was more than an hour we walked through the forest. It was green everywhere, and the astounding scent of the soil was making the atmosphere more and more pleasant. There was a beautiful waterfall where we took a halt for some time. And as always, I didn’t control myself to take a bath in the waterfall. After having the refreshing bath we continued on our trail. Muni’s home was on the way of our return trail to the forest department office from where we started our trail. Muni invited me to spend some teatime at his home. And how could I miss that!? Within the next 20 minutes, we reached Muni’s home.

With Muniyandi

Muni’s home was looking like a construction similar to a hut. The walls were made up of thick bamboos and bricks. And the roof was made up of concrete tiles. It could easily accommodate 5-6 people at a time. His wife welcomed me with a lovely smile. Within the next 5 minutes, there were 3 cups of tea on the table. For the next 5 minutes, Muni and his wife were having a conversation in their local language which obviously I didn’t understand. But the way they were looking at each other while talking was beautiful. It was similar to when the newlyweds couple talks to each other with a cute little shyness. The way they were sharing the love with each other that too in their old age was really cute and marvelous. My eyes got stuck for a moment on those beautiful smiles. Due to the language barrier, I was communicating with Muni’s wife with a gesture of my hands with a smile. She was very cool. After spending half-a-hour we left to return. Muni’s wife offered me a handful of a Cardamom with her blessing.

Gavi Forest Department Office

It was 4:30 in the evening when we reached the forest office where Shaaji was waiting for our return journey to Kumily. I got some tears in my eyes while I was greeting for a goodbye to Muni. Though there was a rule, not give any tip to guide, I gave some money to Muni which he refused to take. On my return journey to Kumily, I was only thinking about Muni and his wife.

In our life, we always complain. We complain about our job, our studies, our relationships, our family problems, and many more things. We complain about the things we don’t have in our life. And due to all these complaints, we stop realizing what actually we have. We stop enjoying what actually we have. And this makes us unhappy and mostly depressed. Today I met an old couple who probably don’t have those things which I have. But they don’t care about it. They are happy with what they have. They are happy over that two cups of tea. They are happy for loving each other. They are Happy!!

If they are, then we should too…