Our Ooty trip was great. Let`s take one hair-pin bend at a time.
We reached Metupalayam on Saturday morning (29th April). As the train rolled into the station and I got down with the luggage…I had a feeling I had left behind something. I get this feeling often. Most of the time it is something not so important. But this time around, I am glad I turned back and went inside the AS2 coach – Rekha was sleeping on her upper berth like an angel.
When I told this to my uncle who came to pick us up at the station he said, “Metupalayam can do this to people. The other day your aunt and I went to watch a movie and when I reached home at 1 a.m., I realized your aunt was still in the theatre.”
My aunt is a Sr. Professor at Metupalayum Forest College and thus gets an awesome house inside the campus. As we offloaded our luggage, we couldn`t help but notice the vegetation around. Rekha pointed to a tall tree and asked: “What tree is that?”
“That`s Eucalyptus Globulus,” said my aunt. Rekha and I looked at each other.
Before we could say anything, my uncle jumped at it and said: “No way, that`s Eucalyptus Saligna.”
The next 20 minutes were spent on the characteristics to be used in identifying various species of eucalyptus. Guess, marrying off a couple who between them have two BSc Forestry, one MSc Forestry and one PhD in Forestry has its own drawbacks.
The house was really huge. So big that they gave Rekha and I one room each to stay. Rekha choose the one in the first floor, while I settled for the one near the drawing room. Being used to small houses in metros, I was forced to ask my aunt how much she charged for renting out her rooms for marriages. Not being an MBA showed…she asked: “Don`t tell me I can make money with these rooms I don`t use?”
What is good for one soul is definitely not good for the other. No, I am not referring to Rekha`s sole (in fact her shoe`s) which came out the moment she took it out. I won`t say why she took it out…definitely not because I ogled at the girls staring at the handsome me from the hostel window which overlooked my uncle`s house. The soul I am referring to was that of the chicken which till we arrived was as free as that of any American fowl before Colonel Harland Sanders founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken. After we had a sickening…oops…chickening lunch, we had a nice sleep.
At 6.00 p.m. Rekha and I drove down (actually we ‘rode`…but ‘drove` sounds so much better) 15 kilometers towards Ooty. Had it not been for the hair-pin bends I would have carried on. Don`t even for a moment think that I couldn`t tackle the hair-pin bends. I managed to withstand till Rekha used up her eighth hair-pin. Wanting me to turn back she used all her hair pins to poke at me and attract my attention. When we finished she had eight hair pin bends.
The dinner was on the terrace. At 10.30 p.m., when we had just about finished our dinner we spotted 11 deer. Apparently deer are party animals…and are more likely to be spotted after it is dark and chiller.
My uncle said: “You guys are lucky. Most people can spot a beer opportunity two weeks in advance but fail to spot a deer opportunity ten meters away.”
“Why?” I asked.
“They are silent lot,” my aunt replied.
Rekha lifted her hand. I knew she wanted to say something. The last time she had tried to speak when we mature adults were having a discussion, I had asked her to lift her hand when she had something to say. She was just being an obedient wife here. I looked at her and said, ‘yes?`.
“Why don`t the forest officials tie a bell around the necks of all deer so that visitors like us are informed as soon as they are near enough?”
My uncle looked at my aunt. My aunt looked at my uncle. If I remember right, they both looked at me. In a few seconds time, all three of us were staring at Rekha through the darkness. Perhaps, she felt we hadn`t heard it the first time. She repeated herself: “”Why don`t forest officials tie a bell around the necks of all deer so that visitors are alerted?”
I think it was my uncle. Or was it my aunt…who said: “Deer have horns that work and that`s why the forest officials haven`t tied the bells yet.”
By 12 midnight, we retired to our rooms. Rekha in hers and I in mine.