In Coonoor, for all the right reasons

In Coonoor, for all the right reasons

According to me, Coonoor has been in the news for a while now, for all the wrong reasons. Only according to me, of course. That movie Kapoor & Sons, which was shot all over Coonoor and in fact at all my favourite spots, has made it the new hot holiday spot. No more Ooty, goodbye Shimla; Coonoor here we come! And how!

I take my annual three-week break in Coonoor where my folks live, any time between end April and September. I managed to get there in mid-April last year, for the first time in decades probably.

After the fast-paced, crazy, non-stop noise of Gurgaon (Gurugram, eeks!), the silence of that first night is almost surreal; every single time. Too quiet to even sleep for this proverbial Gurgaonite (or should I say, Gurugrammer)! It takes a couple of days to get used to the silence which only gets broken by the very loud calls of the solitary resident lizard — Lizzy! But that is quite forgotten the next morning, even when woken up either by the persistent summer sun inching its way right up to my pillow, or by my father, who still cannot believe how someone can sleep in so shamelessly!

Braced by at least two cuppas of good ol’ organic Korakundah Orange Pekoe tea, the garden is ventured into. The overall plan for the holiday was to read a lot, watch a lot of movies, eat a lot of pandi curry (no one prepares this dish as well as my mother does) and walk, somewhat. I also had Ooty chocolates on my mind. And if you’ve ever tasted what I can only call Ambrosia, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Dedicated attention needed to be given to it, which I did, diligently eating chunks of it every single day.

I was quite surprised to spy quite a lot of peaches on the peach tree. The monkeys and squirrels were either getting lazy or were spoilt for choice in neighbouring gardens. Either way, I wasn’t asking any questions; I was just thrilled with the prospect of my favourite peaches ‘n’ cream combo for a change. The bulbuls were everywhere, filling the garden with song. And the large olive tree still stood proud, dwarfing the ornamental cherry tree, the Casuarina and the eucalyptus too. The rhododendron bush was full of pink flowers, standing sentry near the gate and the crocket game set up under the ornamental cherry tree beckoned me to play, but I was not buying.  

While the rest of Tamil Nadu was mesmerised by the elections, life in Coonoor that summer was dictated by conversations around how the ‘outsiders’ created traffic jams on the way to Lamb’s Rock and Ooty, the latest sighting of an adventurous bison and how the American chopsuey at Shinkows (referred to in Kapoor & Sons) still tasted the same. Thank God! Talking of bisons, my mother had called me out into the garden one morning to take in the sight of an enormous bison ambling slowly by the hill along the garden fence (on the outside, thankfully), turning to pose for this excited city slicker’s camera.

As I travelled down the 16 hairpin bends to catch the flight back to Gurgaon from Coimbatore at the end of my vacation, I wondered, like I do every single time — why do I live where I do, when I can live in Shangri-La? Not answering that question.