When his dreams bloomed along with neelakurinji

By Meenakshy Menon| Express News Service | Published: 11th September 2018 11:20 PM

KOCHI: The beautiful sight of neelakurinji blooming in the landscape of Munnar once in 12 years will be on the bucket list of any traveller. When the unprecedented floods hit Munnar, affecting its connectivity, Neeraj George, a leg amputee feared his long-cherished dream to witness the neelakurinji blooming would not see light.

But in the end, nothing stopped this young man. “I travelled in a KSRTC bus and got down at Cloud Farm, Munnar. From there I was joined by a friend. We hired a two-wheeler to the base camp. Then after a 40-minute trek, we reached Kottagudi peak, where the marvellous sight of the neelakurinji could be seen,” he said.

Being a nature lover, he always wanted to see the neelakurinji at first-hand. He said their team was briefed with the dos and don’ts before making the journey by their travel partner. “It is true that Munnar is facing a great dip in tourism but hopefully it will return to normalcy soon. When we were returning, the shops had started to open, which was not the case when we were going up,” he said.

Neeraj had his leg amputated at the age of eight, but did not want to remain idle. “Sports played a vital role in my life and I was the first para badminton player from the state. It helped me to get a state government job,” he said.

Neeraj is currently employed as an assistant at the Advocate General Office. He has been abroad as a member of badminton teams. “I have also travelled to various high ranges including Wayanad, Vellingiri, Munnar-Kodaikanal and other forest reserves,” he said. “Initially I used to take photographs but later when it became difficult to carry the camera bag, I stopped using it.”

Neeraj said that during his college days, he would never tell his family before starting a trip and told them only when the journey was completed. “But now my parents have a confidence in me and they are a great support. They know that I will come back safe wherever I travel,” he said.

The next in Neeraj’s bucket list after viewing the neelakurinji is to attend the Everest base camp training in February. “Before that, I will train by trekking to various mountain peaks. Many factors including health issues, environmental factors, and oxygen levels should be checked and if all is okay, I will complete this dream too,” he added.

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