Monday 7th November 2015
Sadly off again – this holiday is going far too quickly, I only have 11 days this year, maybe I should email work for more time! A long car journey to Tranquil, a Coffee Plantation back over the border in Kerala. A Homestay run by Ajay and Nisha Mathulla, this is a different and much more personal experience than staying in a hotel.
I had a great welcome from the family and their dogs, I have really missed my dogs. The Old Plantation House has a great atmosphere, a bit like a set from ‘Jewel in the Crown’. There is an abundance of verandas and a large pool, my room is a suite with TWO bathrooms and a dressing room, not used to the proportions in India yet, everything is huge! Drinks are served on the terrace in the evening and then you all sit around a large dining table to help yourself to delicious home cooked Indian or European food. Ajay and Nisha are very hospitable and interesting people and their staff are very good, especially Swami, their Manager who serves great Gin and Tonics! I think that it is a more accessible way to see India and learn about the country, but it may not suit people who go on holiday to get away from being sociable! The friendly Boxer dog took me on one of the marked walks through the coffee bushes, very green and lush and good to work up an appetite for dinner.
Sunday 8th November 2015
This would be my Husband’s idea of a perfect day, long walk, then a swim, then a Curry Lunch (no doubt with a beer) and a siesta in the shade! Ajay and Nisha very kindly took me to their new property which they have designed and built with Nisha’s parent, Victor and Ranjani, who now live there. It is called Amaryllis and has a stunning view down to valley to the river and a lovely pool. It is more like a palace than a house, very elegant proportions and they quite rightly are very proud of their hard work. Victor told me he taking guests gradually, I think it would be perfect for someone wanting total serenity!
They also have a tree house at both properties, which are very private and of course have great views. The Australian couple who were staying in the one at Tranquil loved it.
Monday 9th November Off back to Mysore
Good to see Prakash again, even though I did not want to leave Tranquil. A three hour drive through one of the National Parks. I saw lots of Spotted Deer and some idiots feeding the monkeys from their car. Prakash offered to stop at a discount Pashmina shop, who can refuse?! I bought a beautiful dark pink embroidered shawl and a wool/silk one for my Aunt.
Mysore is less busy than horrid Jaipur with wide boulevards and some superb old buildings. We drove through the city, down a red earth track surrounded by coconut palms and suddenly we were in a delightful secret garden! This is ‘Githanjali’, the Homestay run by Yamuna Achaiah with her family. There are three dwellings, one for her parents and sister, behind that there is her house which she shares with her husband, Faroukh and two daughters and set in the garden are several rooms off a long Verandah for guests.
Yamuna was so welcoming and showed me to my room, supplied with a small bottle of Indian Syrah to greet me!
I find it amazing how hospitable these places are, it is a great way to feel a part of An Indian way of life you would never experience in a hotel. I cannot imagine a B&B in UK being like as good!
After a slightly eccentric hot shower (Solar heated water), I am awaiting drinks and dinner. I shall be totally ruined when I get home, wondering when the meals be ready!
I had a beautiful Koorg style meal with pork, they are the only people who eat it, with Madhavi, Yamuna’s twenty year old daughter. Her parents had a prior engagement so the poor girl was volunteered! She is at University near Delhi, studying Law and I loved learning about Indian Politics. My youngest son is also aged twenty and has just gone to University so it was good fun to have a chat as I miss him sometimes!?
Tuesday 10th November
Yamuna contacted one of her maid’s husbands, Namurah who is a SAFE (!) Tuk Tuk driver and we went put -putting off to the palace. I love riding in them, you really see street life and smells! The Palace is huge and quite breathtaking inside, you have to remove your shoes before entering and walking on a cool marble floor adds to the experience. It is weird to think the place was built in 1910, designed by a British architect, almost like a last defiant stand of a way of life that was going to vanish.
The Durbar Hall is so pretty, Duck egg blue and gold but on an immense scale.
I wandered around the Residential Place with all it’s old photos and artefacts of times passed. In the far corner of the gardens I found the elephants, chomping at their food, they are so clever with their trunks.
Then off to Fab India to do some Christmas shopping, lovely shop, I think the Indian Economy is safe now! Then back to Yamuna’s where she kindly made me a snack, this is the perfect refuge from the hustle and bustle of Mysore, sitting on a verandah, in a beautiful garden, drinking tea!
My friendly Tuk Tuk driver delivered me to Mysore Station, where I waited in the First Class Ladies waiting room for my train to Bangalore. First Class is very spacious and clean, but a bit dull! I was met on the platform by one of Mr Daniels wonderful drivers and taken to The Goldfinch Hotel by the airport to spend the night (very comfortable beds!) before an early AM flight back to UK.
Conclusions from my trip:
1) The Homestays are a better way to see real India.
2) Distances are long, the roads are pretty good, but the train is better.
3) The people in Southern India are the friendliest, kindest people and they make the holiday.
4) Light cotton clothing and cheap flat shoes are a must, synthetic fibres are too hot. Any excuse to go to Fab India, such good value!
5) The Vegetarian food is delicious, as is the Lime Soda. Rennies for indigestion and Eye drops for sore gritty eyes are useful.
6) I was glad I had ordered a Vegetarian meal on the plane as I was so sick of curry and on the way home got served first with lovely Macaroni Cheese, bliss!