We'd been warned about India. All sorts of things.
Well, my 75 year old mother and I had a wondrous and fabulous time! Our stay in India was also made easier, thanks to the Kumars with whom we stayed, and who arranged simply everything. The most important part of the trip was my mother's 75th birthday and her greatest wish had always been to plant rice, in situ; The Kumars arranged a 2 night stay with the rice planting time in Kerala, where she was able to fulfil a 60 year dream in a magnificent area, lush, green and gorgeous. It's an irony that so many live in abject poverty, yet in surroundings that draw awed gasps of appreciation.
We then took the early sleeper train from Allepy to Coimbatore, where the Kumars would fetch us and take us to Tamil Nadir, near Ooty. While the train looked questionable as far as cleanliness goes, we were given spotless and fresh linen, blanket and cushions. We soon understood; The train journey of only 245kms took 6 ½ hours, and this is the express train! Loved the vendors at every stop, with all sorts of goodies for sale. We had our horror loo experience, on board the train; the contents of which land straight onto the railway line, which you can see! It's all stainless steel but still, one prays the train won't jerk, resulting in accidental contact with the wall with elbows...or any other body part.
We met up with Rajat and Ravi, and we had enjoyed a fabulous dosa en route to the tea plantation. We were welcomed by the family, our cottage spacious amidst a tea plantation and most comfy.
We had a wonderful walk through the mountains, I cuddled my second cow while in India (yes, it really mattered to me!) and Rajat and Ravi had lots of interesting tales. The market at Ooty was just the best. Well, the vegetable section. I remain fascinated by the flower sellers, with the most beautiful and scented stock, who made garlands in the flash of an eye, and really, for a pittance. I assume it's supply and demand.
We took the Mountain Railway steam train through some spectacular scenery, and photos don't do justice to the spectacular heights /depths of the valley! The local station Monkeys are fed, considered a Mitzvah, (good deed) but often have growths, due to processed junk food they are given. They co-exist peacefully with humans. Wild bison have free access to tea plantations, a wonderful thing to see, none of which are fenced off; people are generally very karma-conscious and therefore honest. Even gas bottles are left on the side of the road for filling, and fetched on the way home with no problem! Coming from a country where many live behind electric fences, high walls and guards, both human and dog, this was staggering, especially as so many in India are in dire need.
There are shrines to Vishnu, Kirshna, St Mary etc, everywhere and no matter how poor the area, the shrines are always in as good a condition as possible, even though some are very basic, as they are so old. Some are huge, others are small, but all treated with reverence. Our visits to a couple of temples remain a highlight, the workmanship most beautiful.
We did several cooking classes with Renu, which we thoroughly enjoyed, although I still tremor at how casually a pressure cooker is handled in India!
Here's the thing. The Kumars felt like old friends within hours. We now feel like family. Better than! I don't know what it is, but our stay in South India was made memorable partly because of what we saw and experienced and partly due to the Kumars. They come most highly recommended, for professionalism and well as their charm and hospitality.
Toni Brockhoven Beauty Without Cruelty: National Chairperson, spokesperson www.bwcsa.co.zahttp://www.bwcsa.co.za/ No Foie Gras SA: campaign manager http://bwcsa.co.za/no-foie-gras Non violence begins with a fork (E Brians) [new]