Tuesday, October 06, 2009

i'm a walkin' and a wonderin'

Travelling as they say is the best education. Every time I pack my bags there are flurry of activities around me and within me. I love the thrill of waking up early, have a thrifty bite, get my bags, throw them in the trunk of the car, strap myself and zoom away just as the sun plants its first lazy kiss on the landscape around me. As I had been since I was three or so, even now I am left confounded how after just 10 hours of driving everything around me undergoes a metamorphosis. Roads, trees, people and well ….food!!! What is travel with no delving in food? Nothing really. And though packed lunch is safe and prevents amoebiasis, it represents rigidity and inertia to change. So I love the sweetened milk tea, a contrast to my daily large quota of black/green/some monochromatic tea with no sugar. And I love to replace my oats for something oily and spicy!!! Come on, it’s time to really unwind.
I just know that I will buy more tea mugs, I can, I am positive, raise money for any ailing IT company with just the proceeds of a garage sale of my cups and mugs. How can someone keep buying mugs or tea leaves or silver earrings or books every time he or she travels!!! I amaze myself with these banal buys. And that small shop ahead of Mysore in Gundlapet, that sells one amongst hundred a very Parsee elegant crepe silk saree that which I don’t buy will leave me heartbroken. It’s like an ablution from the usual. It’s trite but it signifies a flight. It is eerily cultish. It is akin to making love to the same man many times and still not having enough of him. It is oh so like discovering a new morning-after nuance after all these years.
This time on my way to Cunnoor, I noticed the aqueducts in Mysore for the first time. They are old, grey and they are of the road. I also now know for sure that the quaint shop that sells flavoured sweetened thick tea on the hair pin bends from Masinaguddi to Ooty is after the hair pin bend number 24. There are 36 hairpin bends from Masinaguddi to Ooty. And they are numbered at each bend as 36/36 and deplete away to 0/36…lo and behold you have reached Ooty. The old Higgins & Bothams in the far corner of Cherring Cross, housed in a burgundy wooden decrepit edifice with its rickety floor panels and scary wooden ladders, had some old and some new books. Tranquilitea is soon to move away from its current location near the Sims Garden. Sandeep, the owner, informed that the 5 year lease would end around October and they must find a new place for the Silver Tips and the Tea Breads. This will be like Elizabeth Taylor courting someone else. It will take some time to find the tea and savories hanging on someone else’s arms but in time we shall acquiesce.
The trek down the Raliah dam towards the forgotten quiet tea shrub slopes hurt my buttocks and calves. I wonder why Vatsayana forgot to mention about these aches and pains as the plump men and plumper women practiced their acrobatic stunts in Kamasutra. It needed lots of hot water and eucalyptus oil from the lone vial I bought in one of the so many spice and natural oil shops dotting teh Nilgiris, to relieve me of the soreness. I hope those acrobatic twits had such a vial. I am sure they did.
Heady yet grounded. These two emotions suffuse me with warmth. As I sat on the lone swing, beside the small cottage that became my abode for three nights and two days, gazing out at the lush green tea shrubs that cover the small hills, with the hope that I may just be able to spot a bison or two, I could only wish I stayed longer!!

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