Saturday, March 10, 2007

Green Green Grass of Home

It’s been a long long time since I went home. Ten months to be exact. And I will be going back finally in April. Green grass, forested hills, pretty streams, flowers bursting with life, tea estates, cold misty mornings, acres of gardens. These are the images that Ooty typically conjures up.

Ooty to me is home. A small town where most of the people know each other. Where I am always assured of hot tea and warm genuine people, wherever I go. Where the postman sees my father’s name on a letter and delivers it straight, without looking at the address. Where I can leave the keys in the scooter while going into a shop and be assured that it will still be there when I come back.

A sleepy town that really only wakes up during the season and gets really dirty when the hordes of tourists descend upon it. Tourists complain that it gets dirtier with the year and still come back the next. A town where the only sure fire way to make money is to open a bakery. But the best chocolates are still from KingStar.

A town where the primary mode of transportation is walking because there are only two town buses (there are more now) which never go where you want to. Most of the roads are either narrow or too crowded which makes driving a pain. There are too many slopes, making cycling impossible. I only learned to cycle in the eighth standard in Coimbatore during my holidays. Which leaves us with walking (except for horse riding of course).

This is the Scotland of the East, where the English still seem to live on. Most of the pretty, snooty houses (and the not so snooty ones) are old and British. Local legend has it that they were bequeathed by their English owners, who left the country after independence, to their gardeners or milk men who are the present snooty owners. The Nilgiri Library, one of my favourite haunts, seems to still live and breathe in a different time. The rows and rows of well thumbed, leather bound books , the huge reading room with its well-worn carpet and sagging couches, the deer and bison heads on the walls, the wizened clerks and librarian, the benches outside, the silence even, seem to sigh for days gone by.

Some of the most eccentric and erudite people live here. A dentist who is a renowned naturalist and studies the toda tribe in his spare time, being the only non-toda to speak the language. A supreme court lawyer who is also an environmentalist and runs a school based on the principles of J.Krishnamoorthy. A scientist who was the former head of the Atomic Commission. One of India's most famous photographers who has opened an institute there now. All of them are stalwarts of the town.

It's the people who make a place what they are. And Ooty has some of the nicest people i have ever known. The Ooty i know is not visible through a tourist's eye. It's the place i love and wouldn't want to ever change.


Amma said...

Welcome home to bright sunny green grassy Ooty. It hasnt changed much.

Priyadarshini said...

Thanks ma.. waiting to :)

gus said...

Hey the blog reminds me of Ooty too..I too was from there..Nice to see similar ppl :)