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Solitude is bliss!

Devashola

When I set out to explore this world alone on that chilly October morning, I was only thanking my wife and my expectations were nil. Because, without her consent, I couldn’t have set out.

But the day unveiled splendidly before me. While exiting out of Bangalore (my second home), I got lost in the half constructed outer ring road. With the road not yet opened up for public, I was driving all alone for a 6-7 Km stretch in that 6 lane highway, welcoming the Sun! My thoughts were getting aligned and purified as I look in the direction of ‘Queen of Hills’, Nilgiris.

My plan of staying the first night at Masinagudi area got thwarted as ll the 25+ resorts in that region looked like booked. Anyways, Mudumalai is not one of my favourite sanctuaries in South India, as the vegetation & weather isn’t that appealing.

After 11/2 hours of strenuous search mission, I located Devashola, a tea estate of 650 acres. My desire of seeing the locality in twilight succeeded. From there on, the experience had been a constant enlightenment. For, I could see one of the best possible views of Western Ghats from the entrance (colonial style) veranda.

It was people who made this trip an interesting one and let me list a few of them:
(1) Dhanraj – a 60 year old cook who was truly humble. He refused to leave to his house at night, his habit is not to leave before the guests complete their sumptuous meal and retire for the day.
(2) Cruz – An ex field-organizer (in the tea estate), who assembles people from the nearby villages for the daily wage of plucking tea leaves in that vast estate. His good social personality came out vividly, when he took me to the nearby Erulas (tribal) community. Many greeted him with a smile and offered morning coffee. I happen to see 2 tribal families who’ve settled exactly in the TN-Kerala border, the valley between 2 majestic mountains. I liked their desire for freedom and decided to settle in nature against the option of working in the estate. Having lived with very limited access to outside world, I could see plain humanity in them. Humanity is ripening, indeed.

Sometimes, I question whether we are in the upward arc or downward arc in the evolutionary cycle. Aurobindo strongly feels that we in the upward arc. Though he justifies his stand with corroborative evidences, the doubt lingers in my mind.

When that 70+ year old tribal lady explained how one day, an elephant came to their hut in the night and posed with its legs on the wall and ruined their home in her native mountain language, it was evident that they are in friendship with wild. When I asked that old man what his age was, he told me he was around his grand-son’s age (the 5 yr old kid running around nearby) when his father took him to the hill top to show the British war planes, during independence period. I could see the timelessness in the way they live! Before leaving them, when I told that mother of the 5 year old, who made us some 100% carbon-friendly coffee (they collect coffee beans from their neighbourhood and prepare powder by hand. No machineries that use fossil fuels, no transportation, no packaging), that I don’t have anything to offer to them, she said they are delighted that some one came to visit them in that remote corner of the world. I gifted my pen and my pocket notebook to that boy, Selvan, as they were complaining that he is not interested in studies at all.


(3) Jayakumar, a multi-talented young fellow (from fencing to plumbing to cooking) who came to this estate some 20 years back with the cook Dhanraj. He was there that night to help Dhanraj. I liked his awareness of the environment around him. He talked about the metamorphosis cycle of the larva that nests under the tea leaves and how larva population growth is controlled by the incessant rains. One more hidden effects of a rain, incessant!

At first glance, the notion that we and those huge old trees share some common genes and some 4 billion years ago, we both were probably the same species, can be a littling funny. But knowing that adds a dimension of wonder to everything we see while walking through that ancient forest. Being alone, teaches one thing: that you and nature are one!

Comments

Shriya said…
I didnt know devar shola estate offered home stay facilities
BTW mudumalai climate is not that bad what you think
Best regards
Bala
you can see some of my wildlife / bird
pictures
at http://www.wildlifesanctuaryindia.com/wildlife/
Anonymous said…
Shriya, they do offer homestay facilities. Check out www.realindia.in for details

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