Unexpected Trip to Munnar

20130929_095805Yesterday night, my wife asked me: “Do you remember – we have a small house plot in Munnar”
“Oh, how come I forget it ?”
“We have not gone there since years.”
“We don’t have to feed it with water and food…” I told.
“There has been news about encroaching, acquisition and landslide in Munnar. So, let’s go and see if the plot is still there?”
“Ok, we will go tomorrow morning” I said.
So today morning at 6AM we left home. “Don’t speed up,” she warned me, “you have got traffic tickets twice for over speeding” she reminded me.
I enjoy driving in Ghat (Hill) areas. I put fast pop numbers in the car stereo. (I listen to slow classical music only while sitting quietly). A flashback: Munnar was my “love at first sight”. The serene, heart-warming lush green environs of Munnar, away from the madding crowd fascinated me. I started loving her. The mist, the chill, the greenery -everything was so romantic. She was non-spoiled then. So I have decided to build a home there. Hence we bought a small house plot near Munnar (some 8 km away from the town).
Time passed. My travels, job, and other assignments – I totally forgot about the house plot. In between we visited there only once! There was a dilapidated house inside the plot. Later, Munnar became a spoiled area like Ooty and Kodai. The process of filling up Munnar with junk, plastic and dirt has begun.
We reached Munnar at 8.45AM – less than 3 hours journey. There were dark clouds and was foggy.
The mist welcomed us. I was counting the waterfalls – there were five waterfall locations till the plot. There has been lot of new buildings and route has been changed – somehow we located the plot.
I went to the neighbour’s house. I asked him in Malayalam: “Do you remember me?”
“Engine marakkana sare? Ningalu pachilem pullum thinnunnavaralle? Etho manushyanu thiriyatha bhashayum parayumallo?” (How can I forget you? You people eat leafs and grass, right? ) He doesn’t know the word for “vegetarian”.
“What do you think; I am a cow or rabbit?” I asked. He laughed showing his entire mouth – luckily there was not even a single tooth. So innocent a smile. His wife teased me about getting bald. They gave us tea and a huge bunch of bananas to take home for kids.
“Are you going to build the house? Will you come and stay here?” he asked. I just smiled. I am not yet sure where to settle down. We are in Ernakulam now. But I don’t mind being anywhere inside India. And settling down, resting on laurels, life security etc are not in my cup of tea. What is in stored by me, how much more years I would live, who knows?
The plot was intact. The dilapidated house is still there. No encroachment. Lot of resorts came up nearby areas.
We went to vegetable market. Luckily, the vegetable vendor recognized my wife as she speaks Tamil. We filled the boot space with vegetables and fruits. Then we again brought 4 Kgs of passion fruits (my favourite). On the way back I might have eaten at least one kg of it. It was so sweet! Wife warned me: “Udayannu, you might end up in loose-motion…”
“No problem, I was constipating today morning…”I said.
As we left Munnar, we were still uncertain – what to do with the house plot ? should we stay there at least for some time? Munnar is getting spoiled – but still she is charming. She is still beautiful. And I love the Ghats, mountain peaks, chilly climate and the mist.
I put my hand outside through front window to say bye to Munnar in the evening. The wetty mist caught hold of my hand. It refused to leave my hand. Somehow I put my hand back on the steering wheel, and then it whispered in my ears: “Come back to me Uday”

Udaylal Pai
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