I didn’t sleep at all well at Woodlands on the night of the 21st (after my ‘trek’). I know children can’t be blamed (much) for carrying on all night but the adults should have known better. So, following the advice of my guide (dunno if he gets a cut but I don’t really care) I’ve moved to a ‘homestay’ called Victoria Tourist Home. Homestays are basically bed-and-breakfast setups but this one has big rooms with ensuite facilities and hot water for 160 rupees a night.
There may be a supervisor job going in this cybercafe. What do people think about me going for it?
MONDAY 22ND APRIL
I’d talked with my ‘trek’ guide about places near here I’d wanted to see and ended up taking a long journey by autoricksaw with his mate Sumod. I was taken around what claimed to be the original spice-garden in this area and learnt a few things about the different spices that are grown here. I hope I can remember some for longer than I’ve remembered Devanagiri characters.
|pretty flowers at Spice Garden|
|more pretty flowers at Spice Garden|
|even more pretty flowers at Spice Garden|
|I loved the detail on this section of bamboo stem.|
|Cardomom pods growing on the plant|
|unripe ‘tomato’ aubergines|
The second stop was the Connemara tea factory: there’s a good description here and here’s wikipedia’s wise words. Photography was very strictly forbidden inside the factory.
|tea bushes interspersed with silver oak (used for building and fuelling the drying-ovens)|
Finally, we bumped and tortured the ‘auto’ up miles of really rough track to Granbi viewpoint (about 1400 metres). Here we sat and communed with nature for a couple of hours, occasionally chatting with young folk from Chennai (Madras) but mostly, when I could psyche people into shutting up or simply ignore them, listening to birdsong and watching the mist curl through the distant valleys. I was at peace enough to receive the beginnings of what might turn into a poem. I’m doubtful about my poetic skils and so won’t be sharing the actual words…
|view from Granbi|
|another view from Granbi. Can you feel the waves of love beaming down on the planet right now?|
My memory of this day was tempered by the sight of an old woman walking bare-foot down the road carrying a handful of cow-dung (for fuel) in her bare hand. It’s almost certainly obscene that I had the luxury of an autorickshaw for excursions while she had to travel like this for existence. I should have thought to tell Sumod that we should at least take her the rest of her journey but was too surprised to think of this at the time.
We then found a much better road back down to the main road (NH-220 from Kottayam to Kumily) and rattled our way back to Kumily, stopping at a dhaba in Vandiperiyar for lunch (Sumod had the main offering: rice and fish curry but I eventually got a masala dosa and really enjoyed it.)
Back at Victoria , I slept from about 4 to 9pm and then crawled out in search of food and email. Got the latter easily at the post office and Sumod helped me order vegetable curry and chapattis from a handcart-stall near the bus stand. (He was queuing for customers with his rickshaw right by the stall.)
TUESDAY 23RD APRIL
Today I tried the Periyar park official boat trip. They don’t promise you’ll see anything apart from trees, water and climate and the trip lived up to this, apart from a distant glimpse of what might have been wild pigs.
|view from the tour boat of Periyar lake|
|Some of the trees here have the most beautiful flowers.|
My original ‘trek’ guide took me swimming in the pool at the base of the local hydro-electric dam. We couldn’t stay for too long – the local workers didn’t mind but an inspector was due to arrive and he might have objected.
|pretty flowers around Kumily. It’s taken me until my 5th decade to begin to appreciate their beauty|
|base of a banyan tree|
|top part of a banyan tree|
I’m a lot less pleased with the remake of King Kong. It’s not a big ape, it’s a huge turkey. Not quite as bad as the Tim Hines version of War of the Worlds (Here’s ggrieg’s review of that gobble-monster) but the only way I could enjoy it was as a comedy and spot-the-homage session. Don’t waste your money even renting this film. I’m glad it only cost me the equivalent of 50 pence.
Tomorrow I’m going on a short trip to nearby parts of Tamil Nadu. This may be quite lovely – temples, waterfalls and other scenic stuff. The day after I might spend just wondering around Kumily, taking photographs so that I have a record of a small town.
See you later spacecats!
EDIT: just checked out an Indian marriage-broker website. They list potential brides’ complexions. Yick.