A trip to Ooty with friends was a dream come true in many ways, Nazia's home town, a chance to meet the tribals (yes, I am a nerd) and my all time favourite dream of riding a horse all on the same tour. I was too excited to do any studying for my internals prior to the trip and started packing almost a week before the trip. I was more hyper than usual....hyper to the point of being annoying. My friends got a glazed expression every time I mentioned Ooty. I even read up on the tribals we were to meet.
We reached Ooty via the Bandipur tiger reserve. Words aren't enough to describe the beauty that is Bandipur. Our accommodations were arranged at Don Bosco Community College. Well it looks neat from the outside, because it was on top of a hill and when the mist spread we felt as though we were floating on a cloud. Jimmy instantly took a liking for me (Jimmy is the St. Bernard) and chased me all over the place like the sheep that he usually chases and knocked the wind out of me on several occasions, he was the size of a young cow! The Dorm alloted to us (with all due respect to our teachers) was hideous. It wasn't a dorm, it was a run down old auditorium, with paint chipping in places. We were given mattresses and asked to make ourselves feel at home. Bah! The Irony. I don't even want to talk about the toilets. Apoorva declared that she wasn't getting out of her clothes till she was safely back in Bangalore. I was at a loss for words, so I ate instead, to cover up the awkward silence and the bewildered looks. We survived on Thepla, pickles and kakra at the dorm.....and several cartons of milk.
So much for the Five star accommodations. We trooped off to meet the tribals (it was study tour, did I not mention that?). We were to meet members of the Irula tribes, some of whom were brought from Sri Lanka to work in British plantations. We trekked for miles before reaching the main settlement. Since they spoke Tamil, Anuja's broken Tamil came in handy (the fraud Tamilian). It was clearcthat the man we interviewed found her Tamil funny and was doing his best not to laugh. The more courageous of the lot (which includes me) trekked another 5 miles uphill to get to the original settlement. The view took my breath away ( for the record I was already out of breath having trekked so long).
The most enjoyable moment that day was when the gang was heading back to the dorm after hunting for stores selling Toda shawls and Eucalyptus (pronounced Youclipeetus; courtesy Anuja), we stood on the path leading to the dorm over looking the valley of Kottagiri. It was 7. 30 in the night, pitch dark. We could see pin prick like lights from far away houses in the valley and the gospel music from a nearby church. It was the most peaceful moment of my life. I felt calm ( which is very very rare in my case). There were pillow fights, blanket thefts, near strangulation and photo shoots in the dorm that night. I distinctly heard a muffled voice trying to scream"Bitch central".DAY 2
We left for Ooty from Kottagiri at 8 in the morning after the catholic students attended mass and afterI got pinned down by Jimmy. I'm sure I left a depression on the side of the hill where Jimmy used me for a trampoline. First stop was the Tea museum. It was bone bitingly cold. All of us huddled inside the museum/ factory for the yummiest cup of hot tea and learned the history and art of tea making. I was more interested in the tea they served rather than its history mind you. I bought several packets of truffles, went to Ooty view point and trooped off to the bus. We went to the boat house next. All of us rushed towards the chocolate outlets. Nobody gave a second look towards the boats. it was drizzling for Pete's sake. Along came Farooq Uncle (Nazia's uncle) and his sons to our rescue. The gang settled in his car (cramped but quaint) for a ride through Ooty. We were the only ones luck enough to see most of Ooty within an hour. We bought more chocolates and marshmallows, Nuja got her Toda shawl and I got my souvenirs. I cribbed, a lot more than usual because everyone were hinting that I might not get to ride a horse because of the lackof time. I threw a tantrum (It was my way or the highway). We made it just in time to see everyone boarding the bus (smirks from the gang)........ I begged and pleaded with my mentor to let me ride horse just once. She gave me 5 minutes (" 5 minutes, chop chop"), I rushed over to the nearest horse and blurted to its smug owner that I wanted a ride. I got to ride the prettiest white horse its mane glistening in the cold sunlight. Apoorva threw me looks of pure venom, because I got the best looking horse (tsk tsk, such vanity). I felt like a princess (friends suggested "the evil witch Queen" title).
We cribbed about our accommodations, threw up during the journey, got back to dorm very well past the deadline at night, did things that an innocent reader shouldn't read about, made life hell for the teachers who accompanied us. But ultimately it was the most fun trip we ever went on. Teachers groan when we mention the dates for the next trip, but heck WE ARE GOING!!