Clean and Green

Trip Start Jan 16, 2012
Trip End Jul 11, 2012

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Where I stayed
SMM Cottage

Flag of India  , Kerala,
Thursday, February 23, 2012

I usually ride developing world buses, cars, and tuk tuks with a blind faith in the driver, which is a necessity if you want to go anywhere. And the journey up to the hill-station of Munnar (1524 m) was, like many such a journey, an exercise in suspended disbelief. After five hours of travelling from Trichy to Dindigul and then on another bus to Theni, we got an interstate bus to Munnar which very soon was crawling up a switchbacking single track mountain road. The bus was about as wide as the road, and the driver had to do some skilfull three-point turns to get around the tightest hairpin bends. Almost every car approaching the bus would have to get off the road or back up until it found a wider bit of road to retreat to. The road dropped precipitously to the plain we were leaving behind. I kept my faith in the driver, frayed as it was with the thought of a couple of bus accident stories I'd been reading in The Times of India, and the driver delivered us to the border with the state of Kerala. There a Kerala bus driver took over and continued the slow journey. The air was clear, and majestic trees with spreading canopies stood on the slopes around us. The rolling hills started to be carpeted with flat tea bushes, bright green as far as the eye could see, with blue mountains in the distance.

The reason to make the long and slow ten-hour bus journey up here was to feast our eyes on green trees and hills and breathe cooler mountain air. Some walking was on the agenda. Dan, however, had to lie low—he had succumbed to what he called "Delhi Belly," a term which mystified our tuk tuk drivers when he mentioned it as his reason for not being able to take a tour to the waterfalls and viewpoints around the town. As a result, we didn’t do as much walking as hoped, but we did catch up on some old American movies on the TV in our room, such as Meet The Parents, Terminator 3, and Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. We didn’t see these movies in their entirety, for two reasons. First was the message which obliterated the screen several times, which notified us that we owed “large payments” on our account which had to be paid or service would be cut off. And about an hour later, the screen just showed us TV snow. The next day service was back on, but the frequent power cuts in our hotel and sometimes the whole neighbourhood took out a few scenes.

So, at the end of our three-day stay, Dan was walking again, we had some corny American movie images as well as some fascinating Indian TV advertising in our heads. And we did get some of the clean and green atmosphere that we had come for.
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