Most of our journey was through Kerala this time. It was hot, we drank water by the litre, but Kerala was lush with greenery. We left the heat behind and drank with our eyes the greenness of the landscape and the almost geometric regularity of the tea gardens that climbed the slopes of the hills with their dark and shiny leaves. The clouds floated in as evening fell and covered the mountains all night long until the sun rose in the morning and we mistook them for lingering fog.
I was woken up at dawn by the chirping of birds and not another sound could I hear. As I stood in the balcony of our room looking at the cloud-covered mountains in the distance and breathed in the freshness of the early morning breeze, I wondered how it would feel to actually live in this place. Perhaps we could live here if there was nothing very important to be done, if we could give up most of the things in our life and be content with what was available and not what we wanted to have. Once it had been my fantasy to live on a tea estate but that, I could see, would have been a life of great luxury, to be enjoyed only by the lucky few. But who knows, that life might have palled too. For now it would suffice that I was here, looking at the cloud-covered mountains, across a vast valley of tea gardens and trees with beautiful purple flowers, surrounded by the forests kept carefully in check. Later I would hear that the wild elephants in the forests were not very mindful of the boundaries and held court at night keeping the fearful humans away.
To be present in the moment – that is a lesson yet to be learnt by many people nowadays, but that is the lesson nature teaches when we encounter her all too rarely. Perhaps at this age I know that it is necessary to live our lives instead of reading about other people’s lives. So I did not pack books or iPad, nor my Kindle (which would displease S. no doubt) but where else would I see a tea bush or a herd of elephants in the wild, or a nearly extinct deer, or the beautiful purple flowers whose name I never did find out? I am sure those younger than me would hold me in contempt for abandoning my electronic toys but we are quits, because I rather pity them for being unable to live in the moment and appreciate what is set out in front of them if only they had eyes for it.