It had rained all night. It is still raining as I sit down for breakfast.
I’m at Kudremukh, a village in the Malnad region of Karnataka with three friends. After much delay, monsoon has finally arrived in this mountain region. Malnad is undoubtedly one of the best places to savour the magic of the monsoon season. It rains for days without a break. Clouds hang low in the sky and frequently descend on the villages like a white cloak falling from heaven and engulfs everything in its white embrace. We are in the right place at the right time, but for the wrong reason. We are here to trek.
Trekking during rainy days around here isn’t a very enticing prospect as the trails are infested with leeches, snakes and more importantly the streams across the trails that need to be crossed by feet are susceptible to receiving sudden gush of water.
Trekking at peak monsoon is in fact officially banned. When we started planning for the trek we had not foreseen the arrival of monsoon as it had been halted on its track by a stray cyclone. When the monsoon finally managed to gather itself together and arrive on the scene, it coincided with our arrival on the scene.
Fortunately, the trails are open. Unfortunately, we missed out on getting the permit to trek to Kudremukh peak. Some misunderstanding on how the whole permit allocation works cost us our places in the 50 allocated slots for the day. For your information, permits are issued daily morning from 6 a.m. You can only buy tickets for that day. You cannot buy tomorrow’s ticket today. The first 50 people in the queue will get the permit and the rest are turned away. We were told last night that the slots for today’s treks are already over. We cheaply bought into that and decided to trek to another peak in the vicinity by name Kurinjal. By the time we woke up this morning, the trekking parties to Kudremukh had come, stood in the queue, acquired their permits and probably by now have crossed halfway up.
And I find myself staring at my breakfast platter. The breakfast laid out in front of me by the homestay has all the look of authentic Malnad cuisine. Four pieces of white balls each in the size of a golf ball sits aside two varieties of chutneys, coconut and tomato. These white balls are rice dumplings locally called Kaddubu.
When I bite into the first ball I realize the homestay needs to get a better fix on this. Kaddubu cannot go with coconut chutney. It must be served with spicy meat curry. Yet, I hog on it to fortify myself for the long walk.