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India Blog 13

April 23, 2010

Thoughts while riding a bike in India:

How does one close a mountain?

Tea plantations might have slaves

India can be as green as ireland

A week of yoga will be much different from this

Day 8:  The next morning in Ooty, I slept, for a long time due to strenuous circumstances from the night before.  Eventually, I woke up and got on the bike determined to see all I could of this elusive beautiful valley surrounded by mountains.  I rode 20 km further into the range and stopped to trounce around on a hill overlooking a sparkling lake.  On my way back I found a rose garden with no roses and another that was no better.   I did find a place called Hilarious Garden but only laughed at the sign.  Many places in the area make their own chocolate, which was excellent, but I still wonder why every single place sold their own, I guess if one person has a good idea they all copy it.  After the sweets, I found a small road leading up a hill so I took it and found a flat top birch tree forest.  So I hiked for an hour or so and came upon a giant lake filled with boats being watched by a class of 11year old students from one of the many boarding schools in the area.  We kicked a ball around for a while and then I moved on to a thread garden and petting zoo.  The zoo sucked but the garden, painstakingly made out of thread was alright; it had all the plants of the area.

On my way back, I came across a soccer game that turned out to be an annual Easter match.  I joined a side, scuffed my knee bad on the gravelly pitch but came away with a goal and two assists as well as more than a few new friends.  After I returned home, bleeding, I cleaned myself up, ate dinner, watched shitty movies and went to bed.

Day 9:  I wake up with a dilemma.  Go southwest without knowing whether I can get through or go back through hell.  Either way, I am searching for a way to get to Maryoor.  In order to get there I must make a decision.  In the end I go with not being lost.  Hell’s name is Coimbatore, a giant city in western Tamil Nadu that if  can get through alive, I will be so dirty, covered in exhaust black all over my face and hair that I will look like I just left a coal mine.  The streets are very narrow but totally full of vehicles of all sizes trying at every possible moment to pass each other.  There is very little room to pull over so there is nothing possible to see.  I don’t want to turn off the main roads because every other one seems to split into a thousand others leading to what must be a vat of shit hidden in the middle of a street that people practice throwing knives into.  The throng is endless and I have to ask if I am still going the right way over 10 times without stopping by punishment of being crushed by something men named Olaf, Zangief, or Brutus couldn’t pull or pick up in a competition if they teamed up.

I get through, then I get lost anyway.  I am getting closer to Maryoor, my mountain paradise, but the only way is through a tiger sanctuary.  A small road cuts the nature preserve in half a gets me back into Kerala.  But there are turns and forks in the road that must be maneuvered, not to mention a shit ton of dangerous animals that could be lurking behind any tree or bend in the road.  I can hear all sorts of calls, but no tigers.  It starts to get quiet and I figure that s more dangerous.  Son, I realize that there hasn’t been a sign in a while.  After more images of being mauled by the animal kingdom flow through my head, after I should have been drinking juice and watching TV, after an hour of no signs, I see a guy.  He has very little clothes on and is in a tree.  I ask him where the road is and whether I should be extremely frightened and get up there with him.  He responds, in perfect English, that I passed a turn and tells me how to get back.  I arrive in Maryoor, entrails intact, and find a nice room on a hill with a jungle gym outside covered in baby goats.

Day 10, 11, 12

India always reminds me where I am.  In a city I can’t escape the music.  It would be easy to fill a movie here with background noise because it is the same as a soundtrack.  Far from a city or town, perched atop the godly landscaping vantage point, where peace is preserved in sky bending to touch a tree line colored dark with long shadows, Indian music, exactly how you think it sounds,  blares from speakers hidden somewhere in the jungle. It doesn’t ruin the moment, it is just a reminder that I couldn’t be anywhere else.

Maryoor is like this.  Nature but inhabited.  The people are hidden in tea plantations and tiny mountain side villages that make me wonder how they could have gotten all of that stuff up there.  Every mountain I want to climb is cut off by park rangers, though I manage to elude a few and get the opportunity to see over and along the whole range of the western ghats.  I think I may still be being followed by the rangers, but the people are very friendly, and though there are many Indian tourists, it’s easy to spot the difference.  With callous clothes and skin, the locals have smiles as well as the the sun burned into their dark skin.

The highlights of this wonderfully green mix of mountains, valleys and orchards is a swim in (under) an “aryuvedic” waterfall, finding a high tower on a huge hill that swayed so much it reminded me of climbing to the tops of redwoods back in California.  The wind was fierce on top of the hills, though not the strongest I have seen.  The best part about this place is how quiet it can be along the roads for short periods while I presume a CD is being changed.  Without the bike I would have been stuck close to town but instead I had 40 km to pay with along the mountain road between Maryoor and Munnar.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. elayne permalink
    April 23, 2010 2:29 pm

    Hey Alex
    Enjoyed your ride. So nice to be able to tag along. Did you feel any different having swam in the ayurvedic waterfall. ?
    Hugs to you

    • April 24, 2010 6:19 am

      it did feel as good as any water I have felt, but it was fresh coming from a mountain so is that the ayurvedic or the freshness? I don’t know

  2. Mama permalink
    April 23, 2010 5:45 pm

    I love, love, LOVE these blogs!!!!!!!! I so eagerly look forward to them… Can’t wait to see you and Mary – wherever that may be xoxox

  3. June 30, 2010 1:37 am

    I usually don’t comment on websites but this one is so relevant and well put together that I just had to stop and say,GREAT WEBSITE.

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