Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rail Gaadi Aayi

 Dear Dan,

The train came and we got on it and I was so happy! Here's the story as I chug-chugged my way through it...

My lovely rail companions!
We began our day with a fast getting-ready session!
Soon after, we headed to see Ella Gap, a little peak into a valley - gorgeous and vast, filled with a party of mist and peaks peeking out to wish us well for our next destination - Kandy! We bought train tickets to experience a small stretch between Ella (literally meaning waterfall) and Nanu-Oyo (literally meaning small-stream), which neighbors Nuwara Eliya - also known as Little England (it was the governors' summer residence). This reminds me that throughout the Sri Lanka that we have experienced so far - there is evidence of its colonial past everywhere. It makes me wonder how much we derive our identities from our oppressors and colonizers at times.

Smiling for Ella Gap!
Through our train journey, we saw such vast changing landscapes. We began looking at valleys on either side of the train. That soon transformed to plains and vegetable patches peppered with small villages and village activity that we loudly interrupted with our blue carriage. Very soon, we were climbing to a height and were neatly snaking through high tea plantations - tea pickers minded their own business (even though I enthusiastically smiled at them) - and the hills rolled into the most delicious hills - they looked ready to be drawn and painted. I tried to capture them - but no way I could. We then traversed through forests. Jungles of tall trees looking over our locomotive gave us company for a lot of our journey!

My courageous rail companions

I could live there

There was a Hindi movie playing the whole time in our carriage - I couldn't imagine a worse time to watch a Hindi movie! Still - it looked good - we should check it out - Talaash ; ) 

When I wasn't avoiding the movie and breathing in the absolute unbelievableness of where I was, I was living out several childhood dreams. Apart from visiting Sri Lanka, the place that inspired Michael Ondaatje to write Running in the Family and my favorite favorite - The Cinnamon Peeler's Wife, I got to stick my head out of a moving train! Bua was waay more daring than I was and got off and hung on the railings! 

The journey was beautiful and I wished I could have seen it all through your eyes too.

Once at Nanu-Oyo, we headed for Nuwara Eliya to see a tea factory. A flirtatious drizzle and a hot cup of tea with a fresh slice of cake awaited us. After our quick refreshment, we got the most rapid tour of their tea factory that I have ever gotten. I also saw a very sad dog - it looked like it had had a head injury and looked unwell. It made me sad. Very sad. 

Doggy :(

We saw some healthy birds though. Red-vented Bulbuls and Munias among them. I also saw some gorgeous Morning Glory and missed my walks through the mountains in our beautiful Colorado. 


Anyhow, back to the tea factory. The process was fascinating. I took pictures and some videos, but what I really wanted to hold on to and share with you were the smells. Oh, the smells! I wish I could bring them to you. If a smell could envelope someone in comforting quiet - it would be the smell of tea for me.

Our speedy tour guide

The most expensive tea there is. It's made from the little thin bud  in the middle of the two petals (see next picture)

Our drive from Nuwara Eliya to Kandy

Post-tea tasting and tea speed-knowledge receiving, we headed for our hotel in the hills. I had to take some anti-nausea medicine in order to not distract us all with moans and vomit. We enjoyed gorgeous views from our room and a sweet man played songs on the violin while we enjoyed our drinks and dinner and Bua and Phuphaji left me in giggles multiple times through our dinner!
Wattalappa! Mummy recommended yummy yummy coconut jaggery dessert!
Sending you love on your exciting adventures!!

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