A Hill Station
Called Ooty...
Up on top of Ooty.
November 16, 2007

What would be the odds that on a small mini-coach that I would take from Mysore to Ooty that I would be the person who got
the prime seat of smack in the middle of the very last row of seats, sandwiched in by two Indian guys who alternated the
activities with their hands between picking their noses and shoving their fingers in their ears?

Well, I guess the odds are pretty good because that’s where I called ‘home’ for five hours this morning. And when I say
‘sandwiched’, it is an understatement. You know how sometimes you have a sandwich on a hard baguette and when you go to
eat it, the filling basically oozes out and none of it is left inside the bread any more? Well, these guys were the baguette and I
was the filling. I couldn’t even properly sit in my seat as there wasn’t enough room for me to sit and have my back rest on the
back on the seat. The two guys were so pressed against me, my body was practically leaning forward at a 45 degree angle. Oh,
fun fun.

So you can imagine my excitement once the bus arrived in Ooty.

While some people aren’t big fans of Ooty, I took an instant liking to this place knowing I am going to have a very enjoyable
couple of days/nights here. Plus, what’s not to love about saying the word ‘Ooty’? (It definitely beats the official name of

Since this is a rather remote area, I decided to stay at one of the nice hotels (which isn’t very expensive up here) so that I
could fully relax. And let’s just say I am taking full advantage – tonight consisted of room service (how often can I say
that?), a
bubble bath (ditto to the comment relating to room service) and using the fireplace in my room (ditto to the comment relating
to room service and my bubble bath). Things are pretty great from where I am sitting right now (which happens to be a
bed with big fluffy pillows and a duvet).

My day didn’t consist of too much. I stopped in the ‘Bee Museum’ where I took in some information about bees and honey and
wax and then went into the shop that sold…honey and wax (shocking!). But in all honesty, the wax products have different
herbs mixed with them to make them medicinal and the honey comes in varieties made with different spices (doesn’t ‘ginger
honey’ sound pretty good?) which makes it a bit tempting to buy some of these things. Though I am resisting.

The other main thing my day consisted of was finding out that this area is known for its homemade chocolate! And there are so
many varieties. I can’t even remember the last time I had real chocolate. Ohhhh, it was so nice to have some! Can’t wait to get
more tomorrow!

November 17, 2007

I had a driver take me around the area for a few hours. We went up to one of the highest peaks in South India – it’s really nice
to be in fresh air. But I keep forgetting that there is some altitude up here to consider. That’s probably the reason why I feel
parched at every moment (not only my throat but also my skin and lips). The key word of the day was ‘hydrate’.

After catching some views (and some whiffs of really good-smelling street food consisting of roasted peanuts with onions,
lemon juice and spices), we made our way down the hill about to a tea plantation. Even though I’ve seen it many times before,
I went to the factory where I watched the tea leaves go through their process. Exciting? Not really. But since we were passing
it, it was worth a stop…right?

The last place the driver took me was the Botanical Garden. This was where I would have yet another day in the life of a
celebrity foreigner. I am DONE with celebrity status out here. It is taking a toll on me. At first I found it funny. Now I find it
incredibly annoying.

All I wanted to do was finish the book I was reading at the garden. That’s not an unreasonable thing to ask for, is it? At first a
guy sat on my bench and started talking to me. I told him I was actually just wanted to sit and read. He said ‘Okay’ and then
tried to start up the ‘What country?’, ‘What’s your name?’ conversation. I told him the answers he wanted and then said I was
going to move to another bench so that I could read.

Then group after group after group of people would walk by and say ‘One picture?’ I would agree to it. Then a mass of people
would run over and I would have to make myself force a smile. The worst part about it is when they all want to shake your
hand after. I’m not a germophobe…but I border on it out here after seeing the majority of people with their fingers in their
ears and noses most of the time. Am I happy that this is how I am acting now? No. But there is really no other solution.

A few minutes later I decided to throw in the towel and head to the Coffee Day Café (think ‘India’s version of Starbuck’s’) to
finish my book. And then I moved back to my hotel to spend the rest of the day hanging out in the garden and starting my new

The peace and quiet at this point was more than appreciated.

And so was the bubble bath that I just had. Now it’s time to cozy up to the fire with my book before calling it a night.
Back to India.
Ooty tea workers.
A good place to come if you like tea.