17 February, 2009

Princess of Hill Stations

The coast of South India was getting too hot and sweaty (90 degrees, all day everyday) for us, so a few days ago, Shira and I took yet another overnight bus to Kodaikanal, a former hill station, 2100 meters up, on the border of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The days are cool (60-70) and sunny, while the nights have forced us to put on long undies and climb into sleeping bags.

We're staying at a quaint and really pretty hostel built into the side of a hill, so when we look out the window of our room, we see miles of misty, mini-mountains and valleys. I love the feel of the place and we're thinking we'd like to settle here for about a week.

After another amazingly delicious Indian dinner (vegetable makhani, rice, protha) last night, Shira and I walked back to the hostel to hang out with some of the other travelers staying with us. The whole night felt so complete and bizarre that I kind of mistook it for a dream. There was the goofy and loving middle aged English woman traveling with her goofy and loving son. Then there was the local trekking guide who openly talked about how he likes to hug and converse with trees for 40 minutes at a time. Then there were the dozen Tamil men, ranging in age from 20-60, who were stopped at our hostel for the night, on their way to their friend's father's funeral the next day...I shouldn't forget about the Israeli physicist who happily told me about the diarrhea he had in the Indian Himalayas.

Kodaikanal is really different (but still similar) to the other places we've been in that it was actually settled in the mid-1800's by Americans who started a private school which is still an anchor of the town today. Apparently the Kodaikanal International School is the most prestigious private school in the country, and it attracts richies and smarties from around the world. Walking near the campus feels like the area in and around Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, which is both strange and comforting for sure.

If we stay here for a week or so, that means we'll only have a few days left in India, before flying north into Nepal where we'll be for 5 weeks. There we'll spend the majority of our time trekking through the Himalayas on the Annapurna Circuit. My radio friend, Laura has spent many months at a time in Nepal and has set us up with her dear and trusted friend Prem, who will likely be our guide for at least part of our trek.

If you're curious about what the Annapurna experience might sound like, I wholeheartedly encourage you to step back from your day for 30-minutes, put on some headphones, and listen to this. It's what attracted me to Nepal in the first place.

Loose Ends...

We didn't end up going to hug the mother at the Hugging Mother Ashram. We were ready to get out of Alleppey after having spent a tranquil, beautiful, but ultimately over-priced day and night on our own houseboat, floating along the amazing Keralan backwaters.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Z, Wonderful descriptive passages give way to significant comparisons to home - leading the reader to sense occasional aches of homesickness in your days. Hold tightly to your dreams of getting to Nepal. What no camera? I Google image (new verb) every word to find your location and be there with you.
Where you are, I am.

xxoo jobama

7:22 AM  
Blogger LB said...


I love reading about your travels, and am comforted knowing that you and Shira are having a wonderful journey together. I miss you and hope we talk soon!


8:53 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I miss you buddy. I'm secretly glad you didn't see the hugging mother because I thought she'd steal you and shira from me and crush you with her omnipotent buxom. house boat sounds dope. I'm also about to do some traveling - to the dentist to have my third check up post surgery. pretty much healed, except for the hole in my heart that you once filled. sigh. have a blast wherever you are, -jl

4:38 PM  
Blogger Shriya said...

What about pictures of Kodai?

you can see some of my kodaikanal pictures at http://www.kodaikanalhotels.com/
Best regards

5:42 AM  
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4:19 AM  

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