An Uphill Drive on Hairpin Bends: Valparai.


Early this morning we’d taken the flight,
Arriving at Coimbatore – to commence our drive
To the town of tea plantations, Valparai,
Which I’d only recently heard of –
Though living in Chennai:
And planned this weekend trip –
From the summer heat – for some reprieve.

After an hour’s – smooth drive
Through the just awaking business city’s life,
We arrived at Pollachi – a small, clean district
At the foothills, from where we were going to climb –
After savouring the best idlis and vadai
With aromatic filter coffee – our freshness revived:
To appreciate the pristine beauty our eyes imbibed –
With blue sky draped mountains as if waves of varying heights,
Over which green trees, their alluring essence have inscribed –
Like at a perfume infused society ball – where ladies deftly swirled,
And on whose branches varied birds delightfully alight
Before they fly away to form patterns in the dazzling sky
That’s just been washed clean by a light drizzle –
And is sitting out to dry In the early sun’s soft and warm light
That through the cars window is swathing me in delight.

As we deftly accelerate up the narrow winding hill path –
At every sharp turn after the slow and tedious climb
there’s a prize we’re awarded – Of an amazingly picturesque sight
unravelled to us by God who has generously bestowed
on those willing to trod the unforeseen and untold –
Trusting him to shower his benevolence, unconquerable goodwill
To elevate us to a higher, grander plane – our purpose to fulfill.

On each hairpin turn, we deftly took – up the steep but sturdy hill,
There stood a stone slab marking the number just crossed
Out of the fourty in all we’d have to traverse to reach our goal:
I felt a reinvigorated confidence in myself to surge ahead in life –
For failures, hurdles, rejections, criticism, hatred – each is a turnpike
Which must be crossed to reach that garden of successful delight,
From where we can view the world with our personal vision
Without being told – the path you chose will it – your life withhold?

At the end of the fourtieth hairpin turn(year) was a thick forest
Which was so beautifully scented –
it felt like entering an aromatic refreshing spa
That was also playing the recorded strums of a guitar –
Of insects loudly screeching their joyous hallelujah
For the short life that they live with little purpose – unlike us
Who in this wide life we live – don’t find cause for gratitude
That we may pass onto the generations after us –
To find a joyous and purposeful cause to live for:
This forest abounds in a lot of other animals–
Elephants, Leopards, Tigers, Deers, among others – giant Squirrels,
And yet the insects among the titans mark their presence
In the only voice – the buzzing sound God has given them,
Without feeling thwarted by their minuscule presence.

Outside of this enlightening and refreshing forest
We come out onto smooth road flanked by tea plantations –
Through whose tiered landscape there’s mountains
That stare back at us through tall trees that arrest rain,
To ensure there’s bountiful and quality harvest:
So Varpalai is not a mere tourist but a business destination
And plantation workers are gainfully employed, clothed and fed,
That the six owners of the fifty six estates generate more wealth.

The next morning, from my hotel bed – under the quilt,
I hear the sound of a siren – summoning pluckers to their work at six,
Through sounds of cawing, a few melodious – also unidentifiable chirping
Along with the neighborhood hen clucking and rooster crowing –
In the distance I see planters cottages lined on low hills
And cradled in their midst is a wide expanse of multilayered green:
All of it shrouded in mist, snuggling me in a deluge of joyous cozy chill.











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