Going to Ooty.
Yesterday as we travelled around Mysore we kept meeting a pair of Australian ladies, mother and daughter to be exact. It seemed that everywhere we went so did they. There are only so many times that you can ignore people and so we said hello and started to chat. Turns out they are touring India as well.
This morning as we prepared our bikes for the off they came to say goodbye. We took pictures, swapped Facebook id’s and promised to stay in touch. We hardly know each other. We said less words to each other than you’d find in a comic book and yet this could lead to a friendship.
Perhaps David Lean’s film, ‘Brief Encounter’; where two strangers meet in a railway cafe and almost declare undying love to each other before remembering that they already have commitments isn’t quite so fanciful as it first appears.
Some people in our group are on their fourth motorcycle tour of India and talk of having found an affection for the Sub-Continent. This is my first, I’ve only been here four days and I’m already talking about coming back. What is the attraction ? Difficult to say.
Obviously there is the weather. Cold, rainy and miserable winters are easily traded for sunnier climes. The difference is another pull. It is SO different. Everything is different but not in a scary way. With English being so widely spoken there is also some familiarity and a feeling of being at ease, dare I say, almost a feeling of being at home.
Maybe because this was home for tens of thousands of British men and women who spent the greater part of their lives out here. Who entwined their culture, our culture, deep into the fabric of India’s societies in the same way as the Paisley pattern from Scotland is the main design in India’s textile industry today. One cannot be separated from the other.
Now on to Ooty. A hundred miles south and a long way up. It’s 2240 metres to be precise.
We passed through another Tiger reserve which is a mark of India’s determination to save this animal from extinction. The Government is so concerned about this that should a Tiger be spotted in any of their reserves they will immediately close the doors on the public and forbid further access.
Good for the tiger but not for the motorcyclists. The roads in these reserves are ideal for riding along slowly whilst scanning the scrub on each side of the road for photo opportunities. It is doubtful that a Tiger will ever fill the viewfinder that close to the road but there are plenty of monkeys and deer that will.
From the warmth of the plains we climbed up to a much cooler Ooty on a mountain road with more hair pins than a Vidal Sassoon salon. Some of the bikes struggled with the altitude and, surprisingly, so did some of the riders. This was the most difficult part of the ride so far. Yet here we are in our hotel’s restaurant drinking beer especially brought up from the Town because the hotel is dry. Welcoming fires are ablaze in our rooms as the nights can get quite cold at this altitude.
Bikes, beers and blazing fires in February, strange, this could almost be England. Talking of which I wonder what those Aussies are up to ???