Thursday, April 26, 2012
Valparai, misty meadows and a Russian couchsurfer
It is almost a year since I went to Valparai with Jo. I was waiting to get to Valparai after months of constant work. I set off with my mother and my first couchsurfer from Russia, who lived in the US and now is in Pollachi (coconut capital of India). We met up for a random coffee meet in Coimbatore. He wrote in to me after seeing my profile on couchsurfing. We chatted up for long before he left for Beijing. When he came back, he stayed with us for a day, relishing home made Indian food. He got me some nice souvenir from Beijing-an old coin, some flower seeds and tennis balls! We saw some of his documentaries of Africa where he spent 16 months traveling. It was amazing to hear his story. Anyway, so I decide to go to Valparai and Sergey wanted to join me and I was happy to take him along. We stayed at the forest guest house. It is paradise, trust me. You just stay bang opposite the mountain and you can watch the mist floating by. Sergey was waiting for us at Pollachi bus stand and we took a bus to Valparai. 40 hair pin binds, glimpses of vast green tea valleys, forest patches, sounds of birds and we finally reached at about 12 pm. We had a nice tea at Valparai town and Sergey had no problems having roadside tea! I was quite excited. Kandaiya (guard and cook) is someone I absolutely respect, for his humanity, honesty and being soooooo extraordinarily kind. I soon gave him money to buy veggies and we sat outside watching the mountains. I am so happy that Valparai isn't as touristy as Ooty. Sergey and me got talking and my mom took a nice nap. We had a nice glass of black tea and spoke about our travel. We sat outside watching mountains in the dark. He spoke about his days in Brazil when he was locked up for a week in rains and all they did was play cards and sing. Sergey had traveled to Africa, South East Asia, South America, Europe, phew! He was talking about his amazing trip to Burma. I love people like these, backpackers, no attitude and are open to living in a small town like Pollachi and rather rejoicing it. Much better than sobby Indians who live in the US or abroad for few years and can't bear pollution in India and walk around with Bisleri bottles dying to go back to foreign nation. How disgusting they can be! And here was someone who lived in the US for long and living in a tinsel town! How amazing! Inspiring too! He came to Pollachi for job just to travel across India. I wish I could do that too! Sergey left on Wednesday morning, but I stayed on with mom, going for long walks and eating good food. I went walking with Sergey for 4 kms to see him off at bus stop. The road was totally empty and I could not see one person walking or going on bike. In the evening I was hearing stories of leopards from local people and then went to a house and had a nice cup of coffee. The rains were heavy and it suddenly became cold. After eating hot dosas, I read and slept off. I left early morning and some kind people gave me some plants that I could keep in my garden. I bid adieu to Kandaiya and the wonderful amazing local people promising to come back. Next time, I hope to stay with locals and hear more from them. Sergey and me have made our next travel plans-staying on tree top at Parambikulam Tiger reserve. Can't wait for it! The best thing about this whole journey was my mom who was so open to having my firang friend along with us and she mingled more with him than me. I am back, rejuvenated and all set to work and looking forward to my next trip!