Saturday, March 29, 2008


The light fragrance of the tea bushes mingles with the pervasive aroma of the interplanted eucalyptus, the delicate scent of the jasmine garlands adorning the lady passengers' plaited hair, and the smell of diesel exhaust. The Kotagiri-bound bus winds through a landscape of what must surely be some of the steepest slopes ever cultivated, punctuated by tiny tribal settlements, some no more than 30 neatly terracotta-tiled, turquoise box-shaped houses clinging to the terraced sides of tea-lined valleys.

I hopped off the bus in some random small village about 3/4 the way to Kotagiri, and started to hike back along the road towards Ooty. Caused my usual stir as I made my conspicuously blonde way along the route. Walking through tiny, dusty villages, I accumulated a complement of small, dark-skinned and lunghi- (kind of a sarong worn by men) clad boys who, with the distraction of my apeparance, had abandoned their game of cricket and proceeded to follow me along the road. Eventually they insisted that I ought to take a bus to Ooty, on account of there being tigers in the hills. I hadn't really covered the distance I'd anticipated, but, while I suspected the tiger claims to be somewhat erroneous, my memory card was virtually full and my battery running low - and anyway I was losing the race against the fingers of cloud creeping over the peaks and spilling into the valley - so I gave in and agreed to let them put me on a bus. They ushered me to a perch on the bank, and amused themselves with my phone & camera and scrambling up and down trees to fill my bag with inedible, hard, unripe plums, then flagged a jeep to ferry me back to town. I left them with my phone number (one actually phoned me while I was still in bed the following morning!) and a couple of broken pencils, which were all they could find of interest in my understocked backpack.


At 11:38 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that your washing?

Mr Chapati


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