Monday, March 31, 2008

From Ooty to Kochi

It's a long and winding road down out of the mountains from Ooty. I started out trying to read, as I usually do on bus journeys, but before long the pitch and yaw of the dilapidated bus as it jerkily braked and accelerated round the numerous bends on the snaking road conspired to make me feel positively seasick. My general comfort wasn't helped by the muggy, exhaust-fume-laden atmosphere inside the bus, or the bruise that was steadily developing on my upper arm. Indian buses for sme reason have two metal bars running along the side: one positioned to inflict maximum damage to your tricep as centrifugal force thrusts you to the side of the vehicle on hairpin bends; the other is at eye level, so you have to dip or raise your head and look under or over it to enjoy the view. Having given up on the book, I peered around the bar and through the filthy windows at the rain-misted landscape, trying to ignore the headache-inducing soundtrack of wailing and screeching Indian music being pumped through mega-decibel speakers - apparently the only robust part of this rolling colander - punctuated by intermittent blasts on the foghorn to disperse goats or monkeys from the road.

A two-minute toilet break provided a brief respite, but too soon we were back underway, lurching along twisting roads that had me in equal measure regretting the chocolate brownie elevenses before the journey and yearning for just a few hundred metres of straight track. I reflected that this ranks jointly as the most uncomfortable journey I have ever taken. A bus ride on similar terrain in Laos had a similarly queasy effect. Sick bags were passed out at the start of that journey, though thankfully I didn't have occasion to use mine.

And then, suddenly, just when I thought I couldn't take it any longer, the road emerged onto endless flat. Looking back it's like looking at a child's painting. The Nilgiris seem to rise straight out of the plains, like a handful of Alps uprooted by some mischevous God and set down in the middle of Holland, huddling self-consciously amidst the pancake-flat landscape.

The change of terrain was a welcome relief, and through palm orchards, rice paddies and dusty towns, I gradually regained my equilibrium. By the time we passed through Mettupalayam I was feeling much better. By Coimbatore I was fine.

In Coimbatore I had to change buses. Which entailed a sweaty trek across town hauling my suitcase (note to self: whenever Indian bus conductors say it's easy to walk the distance, remember that they are not taking my luggage into account) to the other bus stand. I boarded the day's only Cochin-bound bus, which coincidentally left 20 minutes later. Timing.

Arrived Cochin late at night, and checked into the Sapphire Tourist Home, which is v nice.


At 11:43 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is a 'Tourist Home'?
Like a YMCA?

Mr Chapati


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