On either sides of the winding road was lush greenery as far as my eyes could behold. The mountainous path wove and wound through dense forests. On one side was the deep gorge and on the other was the steep mountain side. Looking down from heights always gave me jitters. In my childhood I used to think that even the weight of my tiny fingers holding onto the window bars was enough to overturn the bus into the deep ravines. The bus screeched to a halt, tired of its climb uphill and bringing me to the present.
Being the last stop and my destination I rose to get down but stood back looking at the scramble for the door. Though the bus would halt here for the night all were elbowing their way out as if they would be taken away the next minute to the next town. Men lifted little children out, some little ones even handed out of the window to those waiting outside ready to prove that they could be good enough for the cricket fields as catchers. Those old enough to walk on their own were pushed from behind by their parents lest they slow down to watch others or talk to them.
The lady in a green saree, typical of the types worn by the women of the locality, with her toddler perched on her left side shouted out loudly opening wide her pan stained mouth to the woman in front of her to make way. Men and women had different exits marked in the bus but all the passengers dashed to the nearest door to jump out first, ahead of the others. It was fun observing the pushing and pulling. When finally the rush had died down I disembarked and on my way out the conductor gave me a pleasant smile as a reward for my patience.
As I walked down the path that I had treaded years back I felt a strange feeling. Was it nostalgia? No. Was it happiness? No. Then what was it? I had no idea. This is a feeling that was totally new and unknown to me. The wayside tea shop and the vendor looked a tad older than the last time I had seen them. The tea vendor called out to me in the local dialect with a smile on his face knowing very well that most of the passengers alighting from the bus stopped to have tea at his stall which was the only one in a long way. Having undertaken quite a long and tiring journey I smiled back and sauntered into his stall for a quick munch and a cuppa.
As I continued walking towards the guest accommodation that was arranged for me in the beautiful hill town my eyes fell on a gentleman walking way ahead of me. His clean shaven face and polite manners towards other passengers had developed in me an affinity towards him. Not knowing how to address him I quickened my pace to catch up with him. Reaching beside him I tried to strike up a conversation in the broken dialect I knew to which he flashed an all knowing smile and talked to me in my tongue. Happily we trekked the remaining distance talking about our holiday plans and secret desire to devour the beauty of the untimely blossoming of the “kurinji” flowers, if we were lucky enough. The mountains turn an indigo or a blue when the kurinji flowers blossom once in twelve years thereby lending the name “Nilgiris” to the mountains. Feeling relaxed at having found a companion in my place of stay I checked in promising to meet my friend later.