This Is Not a Postcard

Tales of 2 people on 3 continents

Karnataka, overland

Coog Region, IndiaCoorg is called the “Scotland of India” by idiots who have either never been to Scotland, never been to India – or both. James and I spent three nights in these hills, hiking on cow trails and chatting with other travelers. Not a bagpipe in sight. One of the lovely aspects of tourism in India is that Indians are as present, if not more present, at all the sights and hotels as non-Indians. And they are a diverse bunch – young and old, from all over India. Modest families from nearby states, snooty elders from North India, moneyed IT folks from Bangalore. They run the gamut.

The smell of coffee beans drying in the sun is pungent. The Inn that we stayed at called Honey Valley is also a working plantation. It’s harvest season now, though work has been disrupted recently due to unseasonable rains which have caused the flowers on the coffee plants to bloom. They are fragile and can be knocked off when theCoffee beans drying at Honey Valley beans are shaken loose, endangering the following year’s crop. The coffee trees grow in large hilly fields, shaded by taller trees, densely populated by riotous birds. I imagine that the Coorg valleys represent some of their largest “urban” centers.

The landscape, visually lush from a distance, is achingly dry up close. All the trails from inn where we stayed begin from a central clearing, about a 1km walk uphill from the main building. On the last morning, we found a nice vantage point on a hill from which to observe this clearing and its sporadic comings and goings. It seemed to me a quasi-magical and sad place. James overlookLonely at most times, but for a solitary dog or cow snooping around in the bushes. We even overheard someone weeping profusely at this site. A person we could not see.

Local workers travel the paths, to and from surrounding villages. Accordingly to the inn’s host, the most challenging thing about the coffee business right now is the scarcity of a labor force. Anyone with any gumption or resources heads off to the city. Rural areas are being systematically deserted. I remember witnessing the same phenomenon, in a more advanced state, in Greece about 20 years ago. Little villages, perfectly placed, entirely silent. Dead.

Sonia at HalebidWe traveled through Hassan on our way back to Bangalore. From Hassan, one can visit two famous Jain temples in Bellur and Halebid, built in the 12th century. The structures are covered (and I mean covered) both inside and out by intricate stone carvings of gods and sundry creatures. Intellectually, we can’t afford to invest the time and effort required to achieve any sort of literacy in Hindu mythology. It’s far too complex…. And bizarre, when you come right down to it. Incidentally, avatars go way, way back here. Way back.

We’re now waiting for a flight to Mumbai at Bangalore’s brand spanking new la-di-da airport. Highlights are being replayed on the flat screen tv’s of yesterday’s surprise World Cup cricket win of Ireland over England. Ireland, who have never even made it to the World Cup before. The games are actually being played here in India. Last night, our friends Aarthi and Guru took us to a chic restaurant on the 13th floor of a building downtown (see the “wow view” here) where we could not only see the stadium where all the excitement was taking place, but also the brand new metro, taking a very first trial run. This will likely change the nature of life in Bangalore radically, where it routinely takes an hour or more to go from one point in the city to another.

Lots more pictures at our site by clicking on “More Pictures”. Love to you all!

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3 Comments»

  Meg wrote @

Thank you for the commentary. It is wonderful to hear about these places.
Meg

  molly wrote @

ah! such great adventures, great photos, good stories and context… blog success!!!!

  molly wrote @

very cool. thank you for sharing this with me. mol


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