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Freedom Walk: Day 3 - Cheruvathur to Pazhayangadi

day03-150x150.jpgCheruvathoor town seems straight out of a malayalam movie. The small difference in an otherwise rustic experience is the ubiquity of mobile phones. Anoop and Prasad don't seem to be out of place here, in the midst of technology - a 7" laptop and a CDMA BSNL connection. Sooraj seems to have excelled at hospitality - he's organized stay and connectivity. Cherry joins them a little after 9 o'clock, and becomes a convenient scapegoat to blame for the late start to the day, at a little past 10 o'clock.

To cross, or not to cross, that is the question. Information technology doesn't seem to have a solution. Crossing the little channels that irrigate the paddy fields seems to be turning into a logistic challenge. Especially for the lone shoe warrior in the clan. Most unstrap sandals and wade across. Not to fear however, our brave knight has no dearth of resourcefulness. With typical independence, he locates a bridge a little way away, and makes his triumphant way back to the other side, where the rest of us have congregated.

Pilicode Agricultural Research Centre has impressive gates. Walking past them in awe, one wanders into what looks like an academic campus - except for the conspicuous absence of students. Despite the fact that its a Saturday, one would expect to find a few lonely research types, perhaps loitering around the library, ostentatiously at pursuing academic excellence. This excellence seems to have permeated down, even to the watchman, who strenuously prevents the taking of photographs of the brilliant natural designs of moss in the little pond at the front of the administrative building. The director, is surprisingly easily accessible, less pedantic, (as they usually are up the ladder), and keen to hear more about the objectives of the freedom walk. After brief discussions about software tools and organizational matters, the meeting is concluded on a positive note, and local contact information is exchanged and recorded. The procession moves on.

Sooraj seems to know pretty much every other person down the road, and things are really smooth. The trek wanders into Pilicode, GHSS. After initial hesitation, the staff is extremely co-operative, and organize and impromptu talk to the students. Anoop and Sooraj speak to the assembly of senior classes, while Prasad fiddles with the printer configurations for the IT@school lab printer. Interestingly, the Gnome interface isn't in Malayalam, and the teachers seem to be clueless about how to configure the login session. There seem to be gaps in the support infrastructure for IT@School, hopefully this gap will close in, as the scheme matures. Once again, contact information is exchanged, of the Kasargod fsug, and the procession plods on under the fierce heat.

Dusk finds the Payyannur KSRTC stationmaster in hospitable temperament, and route information is gladly conveyed, as well as an approximation of local distances. Tip for wannabe future trekkers: local KSRTC bus stations have the best idea about distances along bus routes. Do _not_ trust any of the following: local wisdom, milestones or signboards.

The local route Pazhayangadi gives opportunity to meet local people. The group learns a thing or two about preaching with preparation. Wisdom from a slightly tipsy local from Vengara is convincing: "Avanavannu aathma sukhathinnu aacharikkunnava, aparannu sukhatthinaayi vareanam."

After several uneventful hours of trekking towards Pazhayangadi, and a final 3km uphill test of will, the PWD guesthouse is finally located. The caretaker is very friendly, and goes out of his way to make the group at home. Accommodation is clean, by public sector standards, however the toilet could do with a toilet seat, or alternatively switch to a squat type toilet. After close to 14 hours of walking, the bed is embraced with a fondness never seen before........

Freedom Walk Day 3 Photo Gallery

Places passed through ( with possible omissions ):

- Cheruvathur (start)
- Pilicode
- Kaalikkadavu
- Kanikattumukku
- Karivellooor
- Velloor
- Kandothu
- Perumba
- Payyannur
- Pazhayangadi (halt)

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