Blame it on Google!

“You have arrived”!  The familiar message from google maps’ voice navigation usually indicates your arrival at a destination. But when the five of us switched off the engines and the lights of our vehicles, we were a hundred percent certain that we weren’t where we wanted to be. It was pitch dark with no sign of any civilization around us; the beautiful night sky glimmering in all its glory offered proof. There was no cell phone coverage either. Our frantic discussion on the next course of action was interrupted by flashing torch lights that appeared to come from the other side of the valley to our left. The lights were accompanied by voices – people shouting something at us, but we could not make out what they were trying to convey. One of us started to flash a torch back at them – it was no Morse code, it was unlikely either party knew anything about it and was just a futile and in retrospective, a comical exercise. Somebody suggested we should attempt to listen carefully to what was being shouted at us, the voices now started to sound more agitated. The sharpest of us could just about make out the word Vaango which in Tamil (language), means come. Although not fully certain if that’s what we heard, we convinced ourselves that the voices were urging us to move forward and that should take us towards those people.

We started the engines and slowly made our way forward. We were not on asphalt but on what seemed to be a dirt track that was poorly maintained exposing pebbles and larger rocks. What were we doing on this “road”? We were clearly out of our minds, probably delirious due to fatigue from the 400 km ride from Bangalore that we started earlier that morning. As we inched forward, the torch lights and the voices did get closer and soon we had a bunch of hysterical folks brandishing torches in front of us. They wouldn’t hear anything we had to say for they could not reason what we were doing on a tractor trail cutting across a tea estate where at this time of the night elephants are known to roam about! Their concern was not misplaced for an elephant in panic mode could turn fatal for the five of us. Soon the people calmed down sufficiently to understand we had lost our way and set us in the right direction.

The manager of the resort at Valparai where we were to stay had given us specific instructions to call him when we passed a forest check post so that he could assist us but we trusted Google and learnt our lessons the hard way. The location of the resort on the map was wrong and lead to a plantation rather than the bungalows some distance away! In the darkness, we had unwittingly followed the map to land in the middle of the plantation much to the irritation of the workers there.

At the time of publishing this post, my request to Google to correct the location of the resort was pending.

The five of us!
(Pic credit: Unni)