11 June #savvytraveleraj224asia2016

11 June

Even though we all fell asleep at 1:30am in the morning, I was the last one up at 6:15am. It’s hard to continue to sleep when everyone is awake! Arthi started to serve tea with biscuits to everyone as we slowly prepared for the adventurous day ahead of us. The only thing I knew was that we were going to spend the day with Arthi’s family.

By 8am, we all loaded into an 18 passenger van to view the surrounding areas of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. As we were walking out, one of Arthi’s neighbors saw us, stopped, & chatted with us. We tentatively planned dinner on Sunday night with them. When we finally all loaded into the van, I noticed a home theatre system with a music video & Indian dance moves playing. The music blared over the speakers. We were off to visit the Nilgris (mountain range – I think). our first stop was the family business shop. We stopped by and snapped some pics. The men were running the shop while the women were out exploring. Malathi’s husband and her brother ran the shop while Malathi came on this trip with us. There was another family business: medical shop – across the street. After snapping some pics, we walked a little ways away to eat breakfast at Arthi’s sister in law’s family house. (Arun- Arthi’s brother – married to Sidnu: 2 girls: Mahaleakshmi & Shree). For breakfast: pooti & chapati with chutneys on the side. Yep, I ate too much!

We continued to snap pics with ‘the white girl’ (me). They introduced me to all of their friends and neighbors. All of the people were super generous. As I entered houses and businesses while snapping pics with them, everyone offered me a small gift: candy, bangles, nail polish, anklet, food, etc. i confided in one of the girls that I felt guilty because I did not offer anything in return. she explained to me that it is customary for the host to offer the guest a gift when they come to visit- an Indian tradition.

Even though I am empty handed now, I already want to send this family a proper thank you note- maybe even an ‘American’ goodie bag- please email me suggestions of what to add!

We arrived at our first viewpoint: Catherine Falls. The weather was overcast, so the viewpoint wasn’t awesomely spectacular. However, we ended up snapping a few good pics with the waterfalls out in the distance. Later on, I heard that when you travel to this area, you should never be rushed as the ‘weather’ continuously changes: 30 min of sunshine followed by 30 min of overcast followed by 30 min of mist. We stayed to walk to viewpoint, snap pics, and load back on the bus. On the other side of the viewpoint, a 1 km pathway as you walk to the falls was present, but this crowd opted for viewpoint.

After we reloaded into the van, snacks started being passed around. I wish I could tell you what they were called, but I can’t. Sorry. On another note: I thought this was lunch as there were ‘puffs’ within this group of snacks.

As we continued up the mountain, the weather dipped down to 22-23 degrees Celsius, which cooled me off a bit. However, I noticed this Indian family starting to pull out their hoodies and jackets. As I was enjoying the cooler weather, these people started to freeze. For those of you who have been up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in the spring/autumn time, the climate changed as it does from valley floor to top of tram. We arrived at Kodanadu View Point where we enjoyed the views, snapped pictures, observed the overlook, and lounged around for an hour while we sipped on tea.

After leaving the viewpoint, Arthi informed me we are on our way to Nehru Park for lunch. I thought we had already eaten lunch on the van ride, but that was just a snack. As we were driving around, I saw a sign that read : Kotagiri, which is 71 km outside of Coimbatore. We found Nehru Park, unloaded the bus, and made our way to the park. The children immediately ran off to the playground while a couple of the mothers followed them. The children of India are just like children all around the world: they want to play. Listening to the children giggle with excitement as they slid down the slide brought joy to my ears. We picnic-ed in the park surrounding by beautiful and colorful flowers with rice dishes. Of course, we ate with our hands! During our lunch conversation, I learned Indiana eat with their hands to maximize their senses when eating: feeling/touching, smelling, tasting, & seeing their food. From a different standpoint, eating with your hands is environmentally friendly as there are no utensils to dispose of or wash- just your hands! The plates were made of beetle wood- therefore completely disposable, another environmentally friendly aspect. After lunch, we tasted the deliciousness a of coconut buffy as dessert. We continued to hang out, lounge around, talk, and even dance while at the park. Arthi wanted to teach me Indian dance moves, so with the help of our mobiles, you tube, and music, we danced in the park.
As the afternoon continued, we loaded up back into the van for our trip back to Annur (city), Coimbatore (district), Tamil Nadu (state), India (country). To me, it was evident that most of us were tired as the noise level decreases in the van as the children started falling asleep (& cranky prior to their ‘naps’). Remember that home theatre system I mentioned earlier, it displayed an Indian video about a man chasing a girl (go figure). Those of us who weren’t asleep, we were engaged in the video. Even with the video in Tamil (language), not English, it grabbed my attention. During the drive, I attempted to enjoy the views from the Nilgris mountain range as opposed to the video.

We arrived in Annur in the evening where we unloaded the van and filed into a 2 bedroom house. As you enter into the house, you are in te main room/front room wide and open with a master bedroom off of it, the dining room and kitchen area off to the left & towards the back of the house, and the additional bathroom and bedrooms towards the front of the house. Yes, all of us were in there along with additional people who came to visit. The ladies went to the kitchen to start making dinner while others of us staying in the front room with the children and relaxing. Jameen, Reina’s husband (Jameen is Arthi’s mother’s brother (uncle)) asked me if I like mushrooms. However, due to his accent, I thought he asked if I was Muslims that became a joke to us over the next couple of days. He walked down he street to gather additional items for dinner as the women cooked dinner. Jameen returned to the house with mushrooms and a couple of very small ‘to go’ boxes filled with mushroom masala, masala and paani poori soup. Arthri dished this out for me, and I ate. Jameen also offered me some cashew and almonds to supplement my ‘dinner’. I’m not sure about the time, but I’m thinking it was 9pm or past as I started to feel tired. At this time, they served dosa for dinner. The mushroom masala, masala and paani poori soup were just starters, which I didn’t realize as I filled up on those. I remember eating one dosa and being offered many more, which I attempted to politely decline. As the night continued as we ate dinner, I don’t remember much that happened and lastly looking at the clock before passing out by 11pm. I couldn’t tell you how many people were there, but I can tell you there were at least 8 people on the floor in the front room, not sure about the other rooms.

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