We're back at sea level. It's not too bad -- it's raining, and the sky is soft and grey.

About 30 years ago, I took 2 years out of my American life to study classical dance here in Chennai, which was then called Madras (20 years ago I returned and stayed on). During a school vacation I went up to Ooty, close to Coonoor, from which we have just returned. Everythng was much smaller and simpler then, of course. I stayed at the Anandagiri YWCA and was given what is called bed tea, in a white china pot covered with a tea cozy. I paid for a bucket of steaming hot water to bathe in. I sat on the terrace and ate toast and home-made marmalade for breakfast. It was cold and wonderful.

One day I took a bus to Kotagiri, which was a tiny hamlet, just a few buildings and the tea estates. I had tea and something in a place with old lithographs on the walls, of Queen Victoria, and kittens. Then I walked into the estate, a valley with a stream flowing through it, and thought that if there were such a thing as heaven it might look like this.

Even today, whenever I see a tea estate I imagine that person, my self of that time, surrounded by the tidy green plants, interspersed and shaded with silver oak trees. She sits beside a clear stream in gentle sunlight, reading a book (there would be libraries, of course). Perfectly alone and contented, forever.


Shashi Nayagam said...

Hi Nancy hope your cold is better and you had a relaxing holiday.
I too stayed in the YWCA once and had a bucket of hot water for bathing. It was about 28 years ago. I wonder whether time is still standing still over there.

Nancy said...

That's funny - I was there in 76. About 2 years ago we were in Ooty and I asked the driver to take us to see the YWCA, just for curiosity - and it looked exactly the same. They've probably got hot water by now, though, don't you think? But the rest of Ooty has changed horribly -- all ugly concrete boxes, like any other district hq...

Lucy said...

Beautiful, a jewelled moment from the past, kept and treasured and polished, very moving.

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Anonymous said...

Kotagiri is even more trippier (if thats a word) 11 years in those valleys have stained me mind with the color green and peace-full-ness was with every blink of the eye. In fact, me and some guys from work did some visiting recently and the guys thot they should settle there!

Nancy said...

I always want to settle in the hills - then I fear that I would feel too cut off -- but it really is heavenly. I was disappointed with kotagiri, though, at least during a short visit - it was so much more developed (and ugly) than I remembered...

Anna said...

What a fragrant memory.
There will be libraries in heaven? Excellent, as an old hack I might be put to work there instead of having to do my spell in a tougher purgatory.