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More tea and long bus ride(s)

Green, green, green - tea, tea, tea. Tea outside and inside and back to the east coast

I spent first few hours of the day walking amidst the tea plantations and rest of the day by travelling to Madurai and from there to Pondicherry by night bus. So long beautiful Kerala – God’s Own Country – back to Tamil Nadu (let’s see if the government is after me).

Today the hermit crab made two contacts with the outside world. Yes, my contacts are really this limited.
The first one was a brief conversation with an English woman, whom I met on the walk in the tea plantation. Just like me, she woke up early to catch the morning sunrays illuminating the emerald greenery of the tea, sprawling over the hills, while, just like me, ignoring “Private property. Trespassers will be prosecuted” sign. She was just as enthusiastic about the place as me, and so during few minutes we shared our enthusiasm (“happiness only real when shared”?) about the vistas over this green wonderland.
The second contact was, when bunch of tea plantation workers, who were just having a break from their work and drinking tea, which they brought in a large canister, invited me to sit among them and have some tea. Only one of them could speak Enligsh, and that was very limited English, so the conversation wasn’t very deep, but it was great moment of my life – I sat there, in the middle of the tea plantation, drinking the tea, which was made from those tea leaves around me. Indians like their tea sweet, and they had two brews with them, one standardly sweet and one teeth-melting-sweet, both of them great. I have to repeat it, because it sounds almost unreal to me – I was drinking the tea in the middle of the tea plantation, the tea from that tea plantation.
Damn language barrier! There are so many things, which I would like to ask those men. About the tea growing and processing, about the life in one of those tiny purpose built tea picking villages, about India. But I know, that even if they could speak fluent English, the words could not convey the real message. If I would want to gain the real understanding, I would have to stay there with them for a while, live it, not just discuss it. I have to go north now, but once I’m there, I will really try to go to some small village, like the one yesterday, where I disturbed the school class, and stay there at least few days. There is so much that I want to see and feel here.

Do not be mistaken, that I might feel depressed that my contacts outside my shell are down to two pieces per day. These two were, in a way, more meaningful, than most of my engagement with the outside world when I was in Slovakia and had hundreds of communications per day.

The beauty of the tea covered hills cannot be expressed. I wish I could write that it is the most beautiful landscape that I have ever seen, but that’s not possible. I have seen too much of this world to give rankings like this – who would have to courage or be fool big enough to rank the beauty of Yosemite, Utah, atolls of the Pacific Ocean or Easter Island, and this place, Munnar? Such beauty cannot be ranked. The beauty is simply the beauty, there’s no way of measuring and evaluating it, when it reaches the splendor of these places. “Luckily” I have not yet seen flower farms in The Netherlands, neither vineyards of Tuscany, so I’m still able to say, that this is the most beautiful agricultural landscape that I have ever seen. I can still afford this one ranking.

They idea of spending 14 hours on bus during the transfer from Munnar to Pondicherry (plus few hours waiting time in Madurai) was not very appealing, but it turned out just right. The first 3 hours were definitely the most beautiful (I know I overuse this word, but what can I do?) bus ride I had on this trip, and very possibly the most beautiful bus ride ever in my life. The road was snaking through the hills, revealing one great view over the marvelous tea bathed landscape after another. The other part of the journey, 8 hours from Madurai to Pondicherry, was less exiting (anyway it was night by then), but for the first time I tried a sleeper bus, meaning that there was a real, comfortable bed in the bus, and hence it pretty good ride.

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak