Travels are always great experiences which give opportunity to reach a confluence of new relations and events. The planning of holidays began way ahead. The reason to move out at least for a few days out of this noisy city Mumbai was of course a prior but then there was also a bodily desire for the change of a climate and the search for viewing different places, serene and untouched by the city crowds.
The planning therefore began in July. The choice of the place which was finally decided upon was Coonoor; a hill station in the south of India. A lot had to be taken into consideration such as the vacation dates in the calendar of the school and college, the nearest airport to the destination, the flight timings and none the less the rates of the flights which kept increasing as the time for departure crept nearer and also the hotels and their rates couldn’t be overlooked. Many thanks to Dadu and his secretary Rosy darling who catered us with a perfect booking, to the extent of the delivery of the boarding passes to make the trip have a facile start. Mr. Ravi Bhojan from the MGM Hill Worth Hotels Coonoor was a very soft spoken, and a helpful gentleman who emailed the receipt for the advance sent to him via the bank.
All papers then were neatly holed into the file which was kept away carefully till the date of departure. Life then got busy in its several duties of living; in our case, work, studies, kids, home, doctor visits for several little emergencies which did manage to scare us helplessly leaving a string of hope to hold on to which reverberated ‘all will be well and this too shall pass’. And finally the positive vibrations did their work and on the day of departure, all was indeed well and the file was carefully picked up from its safe and sound nap of four months. Dadu’s birthday was celebrated two days before departure by cutting a nice chocolaty cake and feeding the poor children of the Lord with freshly cooked vegetable pulao and sevaiya. The day was also celebrated all over the world as Diwali, the Hindu New Year.
Only a day was now left before we took wings to be with the clouds. To avoid the crazy traffic which we had been warned about we left home early and were at the airport for a nice hot breakfast at the Café Coffee Day. A soft chicken sandwich, a crunchy vegetable sandwich and Irish coffees generated strength enough to move to gate no 7. Indigo airlines considered one of the best however forgot the boarding announcement unless of course they have a pattern to do so at the last minute.
A rush to the Indigo crew and Sakina a petite staff ran to gate 7 with me first, followed by my flock and the other passengers followed suit. ‘Coimbatore? Coimbatore?’ the question began to reverberate and the answer was given in nods of affirmations. Indigo is the best just forget the rest. It’s the ‘coolest airline’ as the air hostess with the wig (Chidiya ka ghosla-sparrow’s nest) welcomes all in the bird machine. I wonder if it is a wig and the girls say, ‘Yes mum can’t you see it is.’ I don’t like the scary white foundation on their faces and personally feel that India must celebrate its earthly colours and leave the ghost like white to the English, after all they are the ghost of India’s past. Though I teach English I prefer Hinglish as I feel it has a spicy, homely touch of familiarity. Dhumra peti, seat belts, life-jacket explanations done with the flight takes off beautifully in the midst of the clouds where there is no movement, only a little at times and again the same stillness. The food is ready, the kids love the junglee sandwich and I prefer the coffee. It says ‘the hottest drink on the coolest airline’. Well the cup is good and the coffee inside is delicious.
An hour has passed and we are above the cottony clouds. My world down there is so tiny in the vast magnificence of the above. A south Indian little girl of six or seven has kept the otherwise serene flight lively with her non-stop interesting chattering. ‘The plane is running in the sky as I run at the sports in my school. Where is the pilot?’ Her curiosity is pouring out with her incessant questions and statements, and is probably the reason for the south Indians to be a clever people. Then there is a sudden drop in height. The shape of the clouds is simply amazing; there is the teddy bear and the tiger and a foamy bed. ‘Idhar snow hai kya? Is this snow?’ the little voice asks again. Only questions can be heard loud and clear, the answers are muffled in her ears probably due to embarrassment.
Soon land can be seen again from the little windows. From heaven to earth the journey has snow replaced by rocks of human constructions. The landscape is awesome; the machine bird swoons left and then right. One moment it is the earth and the next it is the clouds again.
After about an hour and forty minutes in the air we rest our feet on land again and the legs move fast as if longing for some exciting travel in another place on this beautiful planet.
The Coimbatore airport is quite empty of people as we walk with our bags to the exit and see Mr. Shankar our driver and guide waiting for us.
He speaks good English and is a very caring fellow. It’s a two and a half hour journey and at a short distance we halt for a short break to get a clean wash room and some snacks for our hungry tummies. The pay and use method at the wash rooms in the city is really cool and it leaves the places spotlessly clean unlike most of them in Mumbai.
The place is amazingly beautiful with its fence of flowers which have an amazing relationship with the rays of the sunlight appearing to caress everybody with a warm hug in spite of the cold wind all around.
After the journey in the mountains sitting cozily in the car covered with shawls and warm wear the ambience of the hotel is cold enough to give us exciting shivers. We explore the place and then settle in as it has begun to drizzle making the temperature drop even further.
The next morning has hot tea and then smoke coming out of our mouths.
We talk and we talk simply to enjoy the sight of the vapours spilling out in between our teeth. After a delicious south Indian breakfast with red hot spicy chilly chutney served by Mr. Laxman and a manageable bath, since the water by the time it reaches the bucket gets cold, we rush to the mini train journey in the mountains from Coonoor to Ooty. We make French friends with a couple as we move in the mountains marveling at the water falls, the tea plantations and everything green and colorful.
The flowers seem to be embracing the sun in Ooty. Each station has its own beauty which has to be seen to be believed.
Our guide Shankar is waiting for us as we step out of the station to take us on a tour of this beautiful place. We head for tea factory at the Aravankadu station by car. The tea plantations are an amazing place to move through until we reach the factory. A tour in the machine world were the world’s most pure tea and oils are made is a successful adventure in itself.
The next day we spend travelling a long distance to the Nilgiri forest and reach the grand lake late in the evening at five. It is too cold and therefore gets dark soon. The lake is too inviting but due to lack of time, we turn back to once again move through the woods hoping to see some wild life as our driver-guide tells us that there is an abundance of black cats, bisons and wild deers hidden in the greenery. We aren’t that lucky but not that unlucky too as we do get a close glimpse of a wild deer and it certainly does look beautiful in its brown overcoat. We actually wait to look at it better and it too looks at us and perhaps getting bored of us moves away in a silent understanding.
Having stayed for two days in Coonoor we suddenly decided to move down to Coimbatore, a major industrial city in South India on the third day to visit the world famous Isha Yoga Centre by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudeva situated in the Velliangiri Foothills.
The journey of three days has come to an end. We fly back to our home and soon will get ready to for the regular; the school, the college and work. There is so much that could be learnt on the road and yet we waste our time in schools.
“One day it happened, a lady who was a big professor I the university bought herself a home appliance, a little complex home appliance. She took it home, she read the instructions and tried to put it together – all those pieces that come in the package. She just tried very hard, she couldn’t put it together. So she left all those parts in a heap and went to work. When she came back in the evening, to her surprise, the appliance was properly assembled and already used. She called the maid and asked, ‘Who fixed this?’ The maid said, ‘I did.’ She couldn’t believe it. She said, ‘How did you do this?’ Then the maid said, ‘When you don’t know how to read and write, you have to use your brains.’”