Swathes of dark green velvet sliced through by streaks of shimmering silver. Paddy fields of jade stretching towards the horizon, interspersed by thick coconut groves. The most beautiful houses I have seen anywhere. Bougainvillea running riot on every wall it can find. Backwaters where time seems to stand still. Picture Postcard perfect. Gods Own country. Seen through a bus window.
Reality intrudes. Rudely. Living in Kerala is a little difficult for anyone from Tamilnadu. The most difficult thing to get used to is the food which is the really important part for most of us. Eight in the night means shutter time for most shops and the whole town is probably asleep by nine. The one and only exception to this general rule is the wine shops which do a brisk business even at the unearthly hour of ten pm. Most buses stop running by nine thirty, and women stepping outside the house as late as seven in the evening is considered scandalous. Which makes life difficult, especially in an IT company, where late working hours are a general norm. Not that there are many of them here as yet. The supposed IT capital of Kerala, Kochi, proudly boasts of two buildings in its ‘InfoPark’. But we are still emerging so everybody is on their way here. The rain is a way of life here, to be battled with time trusted weaponry – the black umbrella and rubber slippers. ( I already have the black umbrella, will probably succumb soon, to the temptations offered by the rubber slippers).
I find a lot of surprising similarities to my hometown here. Both are highly touted tourist hotspots. There too all shops (except obviously the wine shops) close by eight during off-season times because nobody in their right minds could possibly want to wander about in the cold, doing of all things, shopping. Except crazy tourists. Most of them shivering in the cold and yet insistently in shorts. It has always amazed me to see normally sane people, lose their minds once they come on a ‘holiday’ to a place where nobody knows them. Most of the local population prefer to walk, so we have exactly two buses for the entire town, which is not much in terms of size, to begin with. Obviously these two don’t really run very late at night. The last bus from Coimbatore is at 7:30 pm because the Ghat roads are difficult to drive on late at night. ( Late night driving does offer some very interesting experiences though. Will describe those in my forthcoming posts). The rain I have already described ad nauseam in my previous post. Only here sweater and socks replace rubber slippers. Life without either of them is unthinkable. The weather outside is irrelevant. It has been said, and rightly I think, that if any person is spotted walking around in Coimbatore, in the hot sunshine, wearing a sweater, that person would definitely be from Ooty.
Home is never far away, I guess, no matter where I travel.