Ooty III

I saw an obituary notice in the paper, with the caption: “SAD DEMISE: Major (Miss) Mabel Miranda…” What a name! It should be a song, shouldn’t it? Or, at least, a limerick:
Major Miss Mabel Miranda
Did something outré with a panda…

Took a short walk on the lane leading above the hotel, where there was no traffic except for one man on a skinny horse. When we returned the horseman was waiting by the hotel gate, hoping for business. There was no one in sight, and he stood beside the horse, resting his head face down on the saddle, as if he were very tired. In fifteen days, I saw him only twice with riders, a pair of small boys whom he led on a round and back. If this is the high season for tourists – and it lasts for only about two months -- how do the horsemen manage to live?

Then down into the bazaar: to the entrance of the botanical gardens, crowded with tourists. Past a cheap Tibetan market: lots of Tibetans have been resettled here. I saw three Tibetan women, with their folded-over dresses and striped aprons.

St Stephens church: A plaque inside had a text that seemed beautiful to me: Roland Harry Rolfe…”he leaves a white unbroken glory, a gathered radiance, a width of shining peace under the night.”

Outside, the most ornate marker in the cemetery was a small sculpture of an angel in front of a wooden cross – “our dear son… born, baptised, departed at Tranquebar, March 20, 1884.”

The tea gardens are inter-planted with silver oaks, to give partial shade to the tea bushes. The tops are lopped off because the branches spread, and would give too much shade. Tea picking: the top two leaves and a bud.

We had lunch one day at a tea plantation: lovely food (appams and sambar and beans poriyal, and chicken curry and a fish baked dish and rasam and potato stew, and a vegetarian cream soup, finished by a luscious pineapple coconut pudding), an idyllic setting, but very isolated.

In the side garden was a magnolia tree. One of the staff reached up with a long pole and pulled down a flower, huge and creamy, with pale green on the outside of the outer petals, looking almost artificial, with a conical white centre and an almost lemony scent. I haven’t even seen one for years. I looked at it, and thought that it looked like an oil-painting; and that its scent was like lemon furniture polish. I couldn’t see it directly, as itself.

Green moss on stones, fallen scimitar-shaped eucalyptus leaves in shades of red and brown, and the silver conical eucalyptus seeds.

We drove to Dodabetta, the highest point in South India. To get there you have to pay Rs. 15 for the car, and drive up via many hairpin bends to a small plateau which has been made as ugly as possible. First you must buy another ticket for Rs. 2, then you pass reeking public toilets, then refreshment stalls, then a multitude of admonishing signs, dominated by this one, which begins, "Welcome to the prestine [sic] world of nature."

to arrive at a “telescope house” – a round, two-level observatory building. Rs. 3 to look through the telescope. Otherwise, you can walk around the rim of the plateau, and look out at Ooty, Coonoor, Wellington, Coimbatore, the Karnataka border:

As we drove away, more signs called out to us:
Do not throw your wastages here and there – please use waste bin

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