We were passing through the Western Ghats at a slow pace. The engine of our public bus has its limitations, which none of the passengers particularly minded. This part of the mountainous region was completely covered in lush trees, and cattle were grazing on a field at the foot of the mountain. Banana plantations were the only things that gave this area some structure, which ironically made them appear out of place.
Due, or thanks, to the slow uphill battle for the bus, we had enough time to observe the wide-ranging mountains and, for the time being, we were blessed with a blue sky interspersed with some light clouds. Mountains are what cause my heart to sing and dance with joy. This is my natural habitat and I would trade the clearest and calmest ocean anytime in favor of it. The province of Tamil Nadu says farewell with a view you can’t beat as we were inching our way closer to God’s Own Country, Kerala. There wasn’t a lot of traffic, but our bus still came to a few near standstills in hairpin curves. The air began to become cooler as well, which was a most welcome change after the oppressing heat and humidity of Madurai.
Despite all the twists and turns, I never once feared for my life, for the roads are surprisingly well maintained. Perhaps the fact that we were driving on the left side of the road away from the precipice, gave me the necessary confidence. I’m not sure if the flora changed to some extent as well or if this was simply the first time that I saw the colorful blooming flowers up close. The trees and bushes were bearing flowers of purple, red, white, pink and orange color. We didn’t encounter any cattle anymore; instead, we passed by some mountain goats standing idly on the side of the road.
As soon as we left Tamil Nadu behind and entered the region of Kerala, the road started to go downhill as the rain began to pour down on us. Our luck with the weather didn’t last that long after all, but the mist surrounding the mountains and the grey clouds above us were the heralds of the upcoming monsoon season. Generally speaking, I don’t mind the rain, on the contrary, I love seeing forests in a different light and the fresh smell of trees and earth is even more intense. My only predicament was that I was sitting slightly behind a door with no upper half. Meaning that I had to endure some of nature’s force and wrap my backpack into its rain cover as to prevent it from getting soaking wet. Fortunately, we arrived in Munnar in little than an hour later and by then the rain stopped and sunlight slowly pierced through the dispersing clouds again. I checked into a hotel room, which was recommended to me by one of the locals. After three weeks of sleeping in dorm rooms and semi-sleeper busses, I granted myself this luxury.
However, I only spent the minimum amount of time inside my room, since I couldn’t wait to go outside and walk among the forests and tea plantations. The smell reminded me of home. Even on a subcontinent such as India, utterly unique as it is, some things in this world are the same no matter where you go. They are things that connect every part of the world, regardless of how small or big these parts may be.
It might be a smell, a sound or a sight that gives you this feeling that you are not alone; that there is something or someone out in this world who is there for you and can comfort you in times of need. Regardless of how curious we might be to explore the new, we deeply require the familiar from time to time. It sends a signal through our leaves, our branches, our stem, all the way down to our deepest roots and works as a reminder of where we come from.
It saves me from loneliness, yet I can’t deny a slightly aching heart.