Well, i have been back from the previously prattled about Kodaikanal trip for about a week now. Frankly speaking, I have mixed feelings about doing a solitary trip with the balance actually shifting in favour of it. Not that I dont enjoy trips with friends and family, but this kind of trip does sort of rejuvenate you a bit.
Except its bloody impossible to be alone anywhere in India!
Picture this, a decidedly handsome and, to put it mildly, drop dead gorgeous guy (er...me. In case you didnt quite manage to be at the head of the line when God was passing out brains) gazing across the expanse of a picturesque lake nestled serenly in the mountains with boats floating along the rippling glassy surface reflecting the dying rays of the sun blissfully daydreaming and contemplating the meaning of life, love and what not, when suddenly this rakishly good looking guy hears a loud phrase erupting in Tamil in uncomfortable proximity to his left ear. Ruffled, our hero shakes himself from his philosophical reverie and looks around. Apparently a family (all the way to third cousins with their assorted kids in tow) on its annual vacation from Chennai has decided that because said hero is standing and looking dreamily out, this MUST be some kind of tourist spot with one of those innocuous views that any hill station finds itself teeming with (dolphin view, monkey point-all being imagined shapes of distant mountains when you look at them from some specific spot.You find them in all self-respecting hill stations here). So the entire family crowds around me and starts staring in the general direction I was gazing in. I am not kidding here - one moment I was lost in my thoughts and staring glassy eyed while my thoughts were soaring else where, and the next I am surrounded on all sides by different bloody shrieking members of that vast family trying to see what I was looking at. This lake is so huge that it takes an hour of brisk walking to go around it (My feet know only too well) and those 15 odd people crowded around the one spot I was in. So much for contemplating alone.
I moved a 100 metres to one side and saw to my consternation that as I moved the entire group broke up and started walking away from there. Peace, at last? Not quite. In fifteen minutes another group of old ladies did the exact same thing and I had to just walk away in disgust.
Travelling alone has another interesting problem. You dont find any particularly dainty restaurants in such places and as you settle in with a book after ordering your food you suddenly look up and see some other gentleman looking across the table. Apparently if you are sitting alone at a table for four, any other single person will be directed to sit at the same table even if the restaurant is half empty! And then of course, even though I have made peace with people using hands to eat rice (hell, even I like to eat rice with my hands occasionally), I have NOT and will NEVER make peace with people chasing sambhar and daal with their toungues trailing half-way down their forehands! And when such a gentleman is plonked infront of you and he starts eating in this fashion you begin to wonder why you are bothering to eat at all as youd be barfing it away at the sight of the lick-your-arms-clean eating show that you have the front row seat to!
I noticed that when I am alone i eat a lot less - only a meal in a day (and not due to the last paragraph). Also, all was not bad. The good stuff as usual doesnt make very interesting reading so the funny (hopefully) lines are thrown on the minor irritants.
Actually I really liked having no plans for the day or itinerary. Kodai doesnt have a lot of places to see but I loved the fact that I didnt have to do something just because someone else in the group wants to go home and tell everyone how he saw all the monkey, dolphin points that there are to see. I spent most of my time around the lake itself. Lounging around in the sun with a book in hand. And I went to one that sounded interesting right from the beginning - Coakers walk. Its a path cut right at the edge of the mountains and the cloud filled valleys that one can see from there are quite surreal. I spent hours there just staring out and feeling the breeze on my face.
A really good trip - and maybe I will try this solitary travel a bit more.
But for heaven sake, if i am staring into space I am NOT at some tourist spot, so please move on and huddle elsewhere. Let me have my peace and quiet!