A journo who doesn’t have a strong opinion on anything. Truth, after all, is ‘'illusive’’

George Verghese

No energy for outdoor vacations

| Updated on March 09, 2018 Published on May 30, 2013


We were planning the customary summer vacation. With only a week’s leave on hand, I decided to confine the trip to the South. But where to? The one thing we were all agreed upon was to escape from the Chennai heat. The Blue Mountains (Nilgiris) is what came to my mind almost immediately. After all, I hadn’t been there in more than 30 years since completing a part of my schooling in Coonoor.

“Won’t Ooty be swarming with tourists this time of the year?” my wife frowned. That’s true. Back to Square One. I suggest Kotagiri, a small town away from the usual tourist circuit. I check with Mr Google. Seems a good place and I make a booking at Green Nest, a resort that looks inviting.

At Coimbatore station, my schoolmate Jayachandran is at hand to receive us. I had asked him to arrange a cab for drive uphill, but he offers his car instead. ‘’It will be good to have a car at your disposal,” he insists. “What about you then?” “No problem, there are three more at home,” he confesses. I instantly feel better and a lot happier. It’s indeed good to have a vehicle at your disposal.

At Mettuplayam Junction, we follow the signpost: Kotagiri, 30 km. The climb begins and the 1.9L Chevy Optra pulls effortlessly. The road is excellent. And, surprisingly, despite being holiday season, there is hardly any traffic. Is it because it is a weekday or are people cutting back on their travel plans due to the slowdown, I wonder, thinking if there is a story idea here.

But before I slip back to office, nature takes a hand. Eucalyptuses and pines play hide-and-seek with tea bushes. And there is a decided nip in the air. I sit back a and try to forget the traffic-dense, smoke ridden Chennai’s roads. The wife is lost in her thoughts. My daughter appears to be taking in the scenery but her mind, I am sure, is on the XII standard results ahead. Son is half-asleep.

In about half-an-hour we are in Kotagiri town and soon go off the main road. Reaching Riverside Public School, the first landmark for the resort, I call up the owner Ram Kumar, for directions. “It’s just 3 km further up,” he says. After a steep but quick climb, we are at Green Nest. The location is great, nestling amidst tea gardens and surrounded by hills. Ram is there to welcome us, his staff are quick to gather our luggage and show us to our room, which is large and well-furnished.

We move to the sit-out, from where the view is fabulous. We soak in the fresh mountain air. There is dew on the rose and birds we haven’t seen, and heard, in years, sparrows, bull-bulls and robins, are chirping around.

As evening sets in I move to the sit-out again with glass in hand. In the hills darkness descends swiftly and as I watch, the mist from the upper ranges slowly engulfs the valley. A breathtaking sight, I call out to my kids. “Just three more overs to go for the match to finish appa,” my daughter shouts back. Fine! Each to his/her joy. Anyway, my spirits are high, and the glass full again.

The road to Ooty winds round another peak some distance away, and I can see the flickering of headlights. Quite deserted, I think, for this time of the year. And, it’s inky dark now, the kind of darkness one never gets to see in cities. Again I call out to my teenagers to step out. There is no response, the TV is blaring out some Bollywood music.

The next day Ram has arranged for a 45-minute trek to the highest point. Accompanying us are two other couples and their four children. The climb is a little steep, but I am enjoying the challenge. “You could cross paths with gaurs, but they won’t harm,” Ram says reassuringly. Just 20 minutes into the trek, the kids begin to get restless. “Let’s go back, it is getting too tiring,” my son starts. Echo comes quickly from his new-found friends. “It’s hot… need some more water…our legs are aching..,” the chorus gets louder. And, in double-quick time we are back in our room.

Driving back to Coimbatore, I tell my wife, “This holiday was meant for the children, but looks like I enjoyed it more… Did we travel 600 km to the hills just to spend most of the time in the room watching TV?” “Most kids these day are the indoor types, you know,” she explains weakly. “Malls, multiplexes, food-courts and amusement parts are the fun places for them. They don’t have much patience or energy for the outdoors.”

I nod in agreement, and we are close to the foothills now. I step on the gas. “What’s the hurry, now,’’ wife wants to know. “To Fun Mall, the newest in Coimbatore,” I reply.

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Published on May 30, 2013
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