Not Just A Cup of Tea

This time I shall take you for a walk in the tea gardens of Ooty and drive through the range of Nilgiri mountains.

I don’t know how to describe that moment. Should I say I was up in the clouds or should I conclude the clouds had come down to earth. It was Amazing! Even at 3:00 in the noon we couldn’t see anything beyond few feet with the fog lights on! Yes, I was on all heights.

Heading for Kaniampetta, another heavenly place to be in, we had to cross the Western ghats. Like a monkey jumping from tree to tree our SUMO went from mountain to mountain. See left and you find at a distance a tiny little Bus in the neighboring mountain, sometimes visible sometimes not. Just playing hide and seek. Few minutes later you find yourself there in that very mountain. See below and you are in an aircraft. There is an ocean of coconut trees below. A green ocean! Do not see right; there’s nothing much to see but the mountain face!

Here in the tea plantations of Wayanad dist of Kerela and the Nilgiri’s of Tamil Nadu you will find yourself in more than a cup of tea. You feel caressed with the tea gardens around. The locals also sell garden fresh tea in small bags in a small little shed. I felt sorry for I couldn’t buy some since I was not sure when I shall be going home. I did have a cup of tea though, in a local stall by the roadsides, sitting on a seat of stone, and being starred by everyone to see some foreigner in shorts and glasses. One must not miss having coffee in these stalls. You will not get filtered one but coffee beans being crushed, prepared and served. And when you reach your last sip you will end up with a mouth full of it.

Coming back to those tea plantations. All the mountains out here are carved. Every little hillock was like a beautiful presentation, a flower. For the first time I was amidst the very tea gardens; tea, that I have been having ever since I was born. How could I not have a halt? Entered the gardens and plucked few leaves. Gathered some tender seeds. The seeds are with me in my bag and have dried up for a cup of tea. Do come, all are invited. I have missed photographs of these plantations. My gun was not loaded for a shoot. But will trap it someday.
Another interesting place I’ve been is Kundah near Ooty. The peculiar thing about the people living in these mountain ranges is the way they specify the distance between two places. Any guesses? I’ll lose anything if you do. Km or miles are not important when it comes to dist. Out here the key word is“Hair-Pin-Bends”. One may wonder what’s that unit supposed to be? When I asked one of the officials about the travel time & dist between Kundah Power House 1 and 2 he said, “43 hair pin bends . . . (Yet thinking!) . . around 1 ½ hours.” In terms of Km it is just about 16 but these places are on mountains. So you actually travel from mountain to mountain where the roads are just a “zig and a zag”. Stubborn ones better not say ‘I’ll break but not bend’ as one can never travel more than 400m without a bend. When I ultimately traveled I realized why these localities are so particular about their peculiar unit called “Hair-Pin-Bends”. The signboards along the roads say “Kundah PH2 - 43 hair pin bends to go” and every bend is numbered and updated to the ones yet to go. At the end there begins another series of pin bends bending you, sorry, guiding you to the next destination. Well, so now for those of you who thought distance is measured in Km or miles wake up and get your left and right turns counted! And if you are planning to come over to Kundah for a holiday amidst beautiful mountains, better get your cars a meter that will record the number of bends traveled instead of Km. You may be interested to know that in the end.

There is a reason for the title. Everytime I halt for a cup of tea I recollect all the wonderful moments gone by and then realize we definitelymiss something HE has made. Each sip makes me feel for the wonderful nature that we long to see in Bombay and gets that environment friendliness awaken in me. I also realize I may never get to see these places again. It definitely is, "Not just a cup of tea!" for me, but a time to meditate ......... a time of peace ........ a time of retreat .......
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