Heaven

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.

9 comments:

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!
LNTS!

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.