Posts Tagged ‘Ooty’

An Indian Year: Now on YouTube!

June 14, 2011

In addition to the 70,000 words I wrote and 1,800 pictures I took this year, I also took a sizeable amount of videos. Though not high in quality, and often taken with a shaking hand, they can show things that my words and still pictures can’t. You can browse through them for your enjoyment.

AnIndianYear’s YouTube channel:

Some videos you might enjoy:

Downtown Nagpur, so to speak

An “Ooty”-ful view from the South Tour

A view of the houseboats in Kerala


South Tour: Ooty to Coimbatore – How we celebrated Thanksgiving in India

December 23, 2010

25 Nov

COIMBATORE: I have not eaten turkey since coming to India.

Every potato I’ve eaten here has been unmashed.

And when it comes to dessert, you’re certainly not going to find pumpkin pie.

My Thanksgiving dinner consisted of chicken noodle soup, rice, noodles, daal, carrots and tomatoes, spicy potatoes, and a 4 oz. cup of vanilla ice cream. I’m not going to lie: the food was quite bad. At least the vanilla cake, with “Happy Thansgiving” (sic) spelled out on top, capped our meal nicely.

It was the least traditional and most memorable Thanksgiving dinner of my life.

Of the 18 students on the tour, seven are from the U.S., meaning today’s holiday was one not celebrated by most of us on the tour. Some of the students from Europe and Canada were familiar with Thanksgiving, but had never celebrated it. The hotel staff around us, of course, was about as familiar with the holiday as they were with lemon meringue pie – in other words, not at all.

Nonetheless, it was an occasion for all of us to put on our best clothes, eat a nice meal together, and celebrate.

Thanksgiving is a family holiday. Not once in my life do I believe I’ve missed Turkey Day dinner with my family – normally at my aunt’s house. The weather is usually close to freezing, I’m in the midst of a five-day break from school, and I get to see my close family gathered together for the first time in months. It’s an opportunity to relax and enjoy the company of people I already know but haven’t seen for some time.

Tonight, everyone at the dinner table was between 15 and 20. None of the blood that flowed through our veins was shared. The amount of time we’d known each other varied from ten days to several months, but in all cases it was less than a year. Before eating, we held hands, went around the circle and said what each was thankful for. Everyone found different ways of saying it, but what we showed thanks for always came back to the same thing: each other.

My journals, too, keep coming back to the same thing each time I put pen to paper. Because each day I realize even better why my friends are my friends. It’s like having three families – one in Illinois, one in Nagpur, and one in this hotel in Coimbatore. They’re not interchangeable, and certainly not replaceable, but each group is important to me – in different ways, for different reasons.

Spending Thanksgiving abroad doesn’t make me sad so much as it makes me happy. Because this trip has helped me realize how much I have to be thankful for, at home and abroad alike.


P.S. Black Thunder Water Park, unlike most of the events on this tour, was merely good, not amazing. The bumper cars, however, were well worth the ride.

South Tour: Ooty – Can it get any more bea-Ooty-ful?

December 21, 2010

24 Nov

No, this was not taken from an airplane. Both my feet were firmly on the ground when I took this picture.

OOTY: My expectations for this hill station were high.

My head is in the clouds.

There’s just no better way to put it: it’s Ooty-ful here.

Brii [Canada] and Jordan almost threw me off the bus yesterday, my puns were so bad. But how could I resist? Every day of this tour I keep thinking I’ve seen the most beautiful scene of my life, and every day the views get better.

The tragedy of yesterday’s bus ride wasn’t that the other students made me take off both my shoes and a sock for those puns, but that I chose the wrong side of the bus to sit on. As our vehicle wound its way up the hill, one side consistently featured a noticeably better view than the other. As I was sitting on the left, and the panorama was usually on the right, I ended up taking more pictures of nearby trees than the valley below.

Then we reached the top, and I realized I had nothing to complain about.

From the bus, I saw a building with a nice view of the surrounding hills. “I’d like to live in that house,” I said.

That “house” turned out to be the lobby of our hotel.

The rooms sit below on the hillside like overlapping cottages, and each has a spectacular view of Ooty and the hills that surround it on each side. We’ve spent the last two nights eye level with the clouds. As the bus pulled in next to the hotel, our glee and excitement was greater than any other spot on the tour, save perhaps our embarkation in Nagpur.

Yesterday we made our way up one of Ooty’s hills. The thin air, sub-15 (C) temperature, and some residual food poisoning combined to make several of us tired and out-of-breath. The higher we went, the more students decided to go back down. The roads turned into trails, and those trails turned into narrow, cramped, passages. RK made us climb more slowly than we wanted to, and for good reason – in some spots, a misstep could have caused a painful tumble into the tree trunks below.

By 5 p.m. we were nearly at the top, but because of darkness we had no choice but to trek back down. The clouds would have obscured the panoramic view anyhow.

When we woke up this morning, the view from our hotel room had vanished – nothing was visible outside but white mist. It reminded me of my trip to Chicago in March with the other outbounds and inbounds from District 6490. Three of us bought a half-price ticket to the top of the Hancock, the city’s third tallest skyscraper. The air was the same then as it was this morning: nothing more than soft, slow-moving white mist. This time, however, the view that was being obstructed was of the South India hills, not the Midwest USA’s largest city.

Most of our day today was spent enjoying the views and each others’ company. We visited a tea factory which gave us great insight into the drink’s creation, saw another botanical garden, and exhausted our legs with half an hour of paddle- er, pedal-boating.

Nothing, however, will top the views from the highest peaks in South India.

After all, how can you top being on top of the world?


Click to enlarge